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Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Host Plant: Monarch butterflies

Nectar Plant: many insects

Flower Color: Pink

Growth Habit: Herbaceous plant that grows to 2-6 feet tall

Range in North America: Midwestern and Eastern North America and Oregon

Exposure: Full sun, but can tolerate partial shade

Hardiness: Zones 4-9

Soil Requirements: Dry to medium soil with good drainage

No other common names known.

Common milkweed (Ascelpias syriaca), a member of the Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family), is a herbaceous perennial that grows to 5 feet tall and blooms in the summer with green, pink, purple, or white flowers.  It is one of the main host plants of the Monarch butterfly.  The caterpillars of the Monarch Butterfly feed on the leaves of the milkweed, which gives them a toxic making them distasteful to predators.  More information on common milkweed on this blog post.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch Butterfly on Goldenrod – ALAN SCHMIERER from southeast AZ, USA, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Milkweed Tussock Moth (Euchaetes egle)

Monarch Butterfly on Goldenrod – Patrick Coin (Patrick Coin), CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Many other butterflies and bees use this plant as a nectar source.

Common milkweed grows in open areas such as meadows, fields, roadsides, and waste places.  It is native to the northern tier of the mid-west and eastern North America.

The species name of this plant means Syrian (Missouri Botanical Garden).


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