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(Asclepias syriaca)
Common Milkweed

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

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Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Flowers of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in a garden, a West Virginia Milkweed.
Pink Flowers of Common Milkweed — Author Image

Alternative Names

No other names are known for the plant.

Description of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

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.

Hosted Species

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch Butterfly on goldenrod
Monarch on goldenrod — ALAN SCHMIERER from southeast AZ, USA, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Milkweed Tussock Moth

Milkweed Tussock Moth
Milkweed Tussock Moth on Fabric — Patrick Coin (Patrick Coin), CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Nectar Species

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


This milkweed grows in open areas such as meadows, fields, roadsides, and waste places.

Range of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in the United States and Canada

Range map of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in the United States and Canada.

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Asclepias, is the Greek name for the God of Medicine.  The species name, syriaca, means Syrian, since Carl von Linnaeus, who names and described the species thought it came from the country of Syria.

Native Location

Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone

Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9


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Common Milkweed”

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