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Common Milkweed, Silkweed - Asclepias syriaca


Family: Apocynaceae - Dogbane family Genus Common Name: Milkweed Native Status: Native
Asclepias syriaca - Common Milkweed, Silkweed. This native milkweed is found in 38 of our 50 states and in much of Canada. It is listed in several weedy or invasive lists, so consider the impact on your area before propagation. In my opinion, it should be allowed to grow unles there is an overriding reason to destroy a plant's population, since milkweed is an important part of the ecosystem, providing food and habitat for many insects.

The milky white, sticky sap is reported to be toxic, but with appropriate preparation, several parts of the plant are reported to be edible, according to Wildflowers Of Tennessee, The Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians .

Journal Articles Referencing Milkweed

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Asclepias syriaca

Distribution of Asclepias syriaca in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 30 Apr 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-July-02Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Each umbel of Asclepias syriaca contains numerous purplish flowers.
Asclepias syriaca

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-July-02Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
The flower of Common Milkweed has 5 strongly reflexed petals, exposing the hoods and horns, which are about equal in length to each other.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Asclepias syriaca

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-July-02Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Certain species of Milkweed Beetles are reported to be very specific to certain species of milkweed, only rarely being found on different species of milkweed. Tetraopes tetrophthalmus (Red Milkweed Beetle) is the species that primarily associates with Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). If you look closely at the lower beetle in this photograph, you can see 3 of the 4 eyes for which this insect genus gets its name – tetrophthalmus is derived from the Greek for “four” and “the eye”. Two of the eyes are above the antennae, and two below.
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Asclepias syriaca

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-July-02Photographer: Cindy Williamson
Nikon D40
Sigma 18-200mm Zoom
Common Milkweed attracts many pollenators besides the milkweed beetle.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Asclepias syriaca

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-July-02Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Common Milkweed grows to 3 to 5 feet tall, has a stout stem and opposing leaves.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Asclepias syriaca

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2010-July-02Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The leaves of Asclepias syriaca are dark green and mostly smooth above, a lighter green below. They are on very short petioles.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Asclepias syriaca

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer