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A Comprehensive Guide to Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides)

Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) is a herbaceous perennial that is found in the south-central and southwestern United States. This plant is a host to the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus). It can grow to 2 feet tall and has white, greenish-white to yellow flowers that bloom from March and December depending on location. It is hardy in zones 7-9.

Taxonomy and Naming of Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides)

Herbarium specimen of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias oenotheroides Cham. & Schltdl. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)


Zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) was named and described by two German botanists, Adelbert von Chamisso and Diederich Franz Leonhard von Schlechtendahl. It has kept this name since being described and named. This plant is a member of the Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae).


  • Asclepias lindheimeri
  • Asclepias brevicornu
  • Podostemma lindheimeri

Meaning of the Scientific Names and Common Names

Scientific Name

The genus name, Asclepias, is named for the Greek god of healing, Asklepios (Flora of Wisconsin). The species name, oenotheroides, refers to the resemblance to the genus Oenothera, which in turn mean wine-scented (Dave’s Garden – Botanary).

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name of this species comes from “hierba de zizotes”, which the Spanish name for this plant (Bring Back the Monarchs). Another name is from the Spanish as above. Some alternatives such as side-cluster milkweed, longhorn milkweed, and primrose milkweed describe the flowers. One, Lindheimer’s milkweed, is from a synonym, Asclepias lindheimeri. — Most of these names are from Another name is Texas milkweed because it is common in the state of Texas. In Central America this plant is called matacoyote (El Salvador) and leche perro (Costa Rica) (Woodson 1954).

Physical Description of Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides)

Plant of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) in a rocky area.
Plant of Zizotes Milkweed — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons


  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 1 to 2 feet
  • Leaves: The leaves are opposite, simple, crenate, and ovate to oblong-lanceolate. They range in size from 1 to 5 inches in length and 0.5 to 3 inches in width. The leaves can have a fuzzy appearance and be a lighter green underneath.
  • Flower color: The flowers are white, greenish-white to yellow and have distinctive hoods.
  • Blooming period: This plant blooms from April to November.
  • Fruiting type and period: This plant has follicles that mature in the late summer and fall.

Range of Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) in the United States and Canada

Range map of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) in the United States and Canada.
Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2015. North American Plant Atlas. ( Chapel Hill, N.C. [maps generated from Kartesz, J.T. 2015. Floristic Synthesis of North America, Version 1.0. Biota of North America Program (BONAP). (in press)].

This species is native to the south-central and southwestern United States and is considered to be rare in Colorado and adventive in Louisiana. Its range extends south into Mexico and to Costa Rica in Central America.


Dry rocky woodland habitat.
Dry Woodland — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This species grows in rocky limestone areas with a high pH and in dunes along the coast (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015). It has also been noted to occur in open areas such as fields, thickets, and roadsides ( and (Woodson 1954).

Hosted Insects

Monarch butterfly on green flower.
Green Flower wit Monarch Butterfly — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This species is a host for the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and also the Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus).

Other Supported Wildlife

Wood thrush on branch.
Wood Thrush — Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This species is used by other butterflies, bees, and birds in the late summer and fall.

Frequently Asked Questions about Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides)

Is this plant poisonous?

Like other milkweeds, it has cardiac glycosides (cardenolides) and is considered to be poisonous with ingestion.

Does this plant have any ethnobotanical uses?

The Native American Ethobotanical Database does not specifically mention this plant, but other milkweeds have been used to drugs, foods, and fibers. One source,, says that this plant has been used as a poultice for skin rashes.

How is this plant distinguished from others?

This plant has distinctive crenate leaves and a flower that is unique to milkweeds. The hoods of the flower spread outward at the top. This species is known to hybridize with Asclepias emoryii (Woodson 1954).

Gardening with Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides)

Add Zizotes Milkweed to Your Garden

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Close-up of greenish-white flowers of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides).
Greenish-white flowers of Zizotes Milkweed — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons


This species is hardy in zones 7-9. If your garden is within these zones and you have the right growing conditions (soil and moisture), you may well be able to grow this plant.

Optimal Conditions

This species can handle full sun to partial shade and mesic to dry well-drained soil preferably with a high pH.


  • Singhurst, Jason and Ben Hutchins. 2015. Identification of Milkweeds in Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
  • Woodson, Robert E. 1954. The North American Species of Asclepias L. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 41: 1-211.
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Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe is a professional ecologist and botanist who has worked as the State Ecologist of Delaware and as an ecologist for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. He is also a former Past-President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. He currently is an innkeeper at McMullen House Bed & Breakfast LLC and a web designer and owner for Silphium Design LLC.