Nature’s Notebook

Connecting People with Nature to Benefit Our Changing Planet

You are here

Photo for species Asclepias_syriaca

Compounds in milkweed sap make the flesh of caterpillars feeding on the plants distasteful to most predators.

Photo Credit:
© Jennifer Anderson, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

Asclepias syriaca

common milkweed, broadleaf milkweed
What does this species look like?
What does this species look like?: 

Common milkweed is a perennial, herbaceous plant growing 1.9 to 6.5 feet tall. Its small, green to purple flowers have both male and female parts. Many flowers are grouped into showy clusters and are insect-pollinated.

Common milkweed is found along banks or the flood plains of lakes, ponds, and waterways, and in prairies, forest margins, roadsides, and waste places. It is found on soils that are sandy, clayey, or calcareous.

Where is this species found?
States & Provinces: 
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MB, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NB, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NS, NY, OH, OK, ON, OR, PA, PE, QC, RI, SC, SD, SK, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV
Which phenophases should I observe?
Leaves

Do you see...?

Initial growth
New growth of the plant is visible after a period of no growth (winter or drought), either from above-ground buds with green tips, or new green or white shoots breaking through the soil surface. Growth is considered "initial" on each bud or shoot until the first leaf has fully unfolded. For seedlings, "initial" growth includes the presence of the one or two small, round or elongated leaves (cotyledons) before the first true leaf has unfolded.

Leaves
One or more live, fully unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. For seedlings, consider only true leaves and do not count the one or two small, round or elongated leaves (cotyledons) that are found on the stem almost immediately after the seedling germinates. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves.

Flowers

Do you see...?

Flowers or flower buds
One or more fresh open or unopened flowers or flower buds are visible on the plant. Include flower buds or inflorescences that are swelling or expanding, but do not include those that are tightly closed and not actively growing (dormant). Also do not include wilted or dried flowers.

How many flowers and flower buds are present? For species in which individual flowers are clustered in flower heads, spikes or catkins (inflorescences), simply estimate the number of flower heads, spikes or catkins and not the number of individual flowers.

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

More...

Open flowers
One or more open, fresh flowers are visible on the plant. Flowers are considered "open" when the reproductive parts (male stamens or female pistils) are visible between or within unfolded or open flower parts (petals, floral tubes or sepals). Do not include wilted or dried flowers.

What percentage of all fresh flowers (buds plus unopened plus open) on the plant are open? For species in which individual flowers are clustered in flower heads, spikes or catkins (inflorescences), estimate the percentage of all individual flowers that are open.

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

More...

Fruits

Do you see...?

Fruits
One or more fruits are visible on the plant. For Asclepias syriaca, the fruit is large and pod-like and changes from green to tan or brown and splits open to expose seeds with fluff. Do not include empty fruits that have already dropped all of their seeds.

How many fruits are present?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

More...

Ripe fruits
One or more ripe fruits are visible on the plant. For Asclepias syriaca, a fruit is considered ripe when it has turned tan or brown and has split open to expose seeds with fluff. Do not include empty fruits that have already dropped all of their seeds.

What percentage of all fruits (unripe plus ripe) on the plant are ripe?

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

More...

Recent fruit or seed drop
One or more mature fruits or seeds have dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit. Do not include obviously immature fruits that have dropped before ripening, such as in a heavy rain or wind, or empty fruits that had long ago dropped all of their seeds but remained on the plant.

How many mature fruits have dropped seeds or have completely dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

More...