The Main Plant entry for Milkweeds (Asclepias)

This database entry exists to show plant data and photos that apply generically to all Milkweeds.

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial


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Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Jan 5, 2014 9:02 AM

"The Milkweed plant contains a chemical called cardenolides. This chemical is a form of a steroid and is a cardiac arrester (stops the heart). Different species of Milkweed have differing concentrations of this chemical. When a Monarch caterpillar eats the leaves from the Milkweed plant it ingests the cardenolides which then makes it toxic to many vertebrate predators. For example, if a bird ate a Monarch butterfly or caterpillar it would throw up. Research has found that Monarchs that have high levels of cardenolides (from having eaten those Milkweed plants with higher concentrations of the chemical) are much less susceptible to being predated by birds and mice! Isn't this a great way to keep the 'bad guys' away?" (My Monarch

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Posted by Marilyn (Northern KY - Zone 6a) on May 20, 2013 9:29 PM

"Milkweed is named for its milky juice which consists of a latex containing alkaloids and several other complex compounds including cardenolides. Some species are known to be toxic.

Asclepias species produce their seeds in follicles. The seeds, which are arranged in overlapping rows, have white silky filament-like hairs known as pappus, silk, or floss. The follicles ripen and split open and the seeds, each carried by several dried pappus, are blown by the wind. They have many different flower colorations.

Milkweeds are an important nectar source for bees and other nectar-seeking insects, and a larval food source for monarch butterflies and their relatives, as well as a variety of other herbivorous insects (including numerous beetles, moths, and true bugs) specialized to feed on the plants despite their chemical defenses.

Milkweeds use three primary defenses to limit damage caused by caterpillars: hairs on the leaves, cardenolide toxins, and latex fluids. Data from a DNA study indicate more recently evolved milkweed species use less of these preventative strategies, but grow faster than older species, potentially regrowing faster than caterpillars can consume them.

Milkweed is beneficial to nearby plants, repelling some pests, especially wireworms.

Being the sole food source of monarch butterfly larvae, the plant is often used in butterfly gardening.

In a garden, milkweed flowers will produce a strong and beautiful fragrance that will be as powerful as in any other flower."

Taken from wikipedia's page at:

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Posted by Newyorkrita (North Shore, Long Island, NY ) on Sep 19, 2013 5:00 PM

I do like both the white-flowered and the pink-flowered types of milkweed. Both are pretty and I grow both in my garden. The butterflies don't seem to be choosy. They also like both. Bees and butterflies both visit the flowers when they are in bloom, but Milkweed is the host plant for the Monarch Butterfly.

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Plant Events from our members
MrsBinWY On March 24, 2019 Seeds germinated
2; 5 on 3-26-19
MrsBinWY On February 2, 2019 Seeds sown
last of seeds from Joyce's in 2017 in milk jug in cold sun room; 3-22-19 moved to room temp
MrsBinWY On March 18, 2018 Seeds sown
8x2 seeds from Joyce's in 2017 in 2.25" pots in garden hoop; one couple germinated right away but failed (probably from hot daytime temps in hoop); another germinated later but failed (probably from my bad watering)
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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Need help choosing plants for an NYC garden plot by TovinoThomas Apr 24, 2019 7:40 AM 2
Which one is this? by Iluvtobake Apr 20, 2019 9:15 AM 3
A few bugs I'd like to get to know by MrsBinWY Apr 10, 2019 8:44 PM 0
need help with this plant and some question by sangel Mar 30, 2019 12:20 AM 6
Milkweed disease/fungus/iono by Bakejusa Mar 11, 2019 10:08 AM 2
Plants for zone 9b landscape that attract hummingbirds and butterflies by Iwannazenspot001 Mar 8, 2019 8:02 AM 3
Prairie Moon has Purple Milkweed Seeds! by luvsgrtdanes Feb 14, 2019 7:21 PM 1
Prairie Moon Has Purple Milkweed! by luvsgrtdanes Feb 13, 2019 11:47 AM 0
What Are You Going To Buy For 2019? by Marilyn May 19, 2019 1:34 AM 55
How to germinate and grow Milkweed seeds? by cwhitt Feb 9, 2019 11:09 PM 23

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