Asclepias syriaca, commonly called common milkweed, is a rough, weedy perennial which commonly occurs in fields, open woods, waste areas, roadsides and along railroad tracks throughout the State (Steyermark). It typically grows 3-4' (less frequently to 6') tall on stout, upright stems with thick, broad-oblong, reddish-veined, light green leaves (to 8" long). Domed, slightly drooping clusters (umbels) of fragrant, pinkish -purple flowers appear mostly in the upper leaf axils over a long bloom period from late spring well into summer. Stems and leaves exude a milky sap when cut or bruised. Flowers give way to prominent, warty seed pods (2-4" long) which split open when ripe releasing their numerous silky-tailed seeds for dispersal by the wind. Seed pods are valued in dried flower arrangements. Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly larvae (caterpillars).
Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Drought tolerant. Does well in poor, dryish soils. Easily grown from seed, and will self-seed in the landscape if seed pods are not removed prior to splitting open. Can spread somewhat rapidly by rhizomes. Often forms extensive colonies in the wild.
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Pink, mauve, white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil