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Asclepias syriaca - Common Milkweed


Asclepias syriaca

Common Milkweed

Asclepias syriaca or Common Milkweed is a rough, weedy Missouri native perennial which commonly occurs in fields, open woods, roadsides and along railroad tracks throughout Missouri. It typically grows 3-4' tall on stout, upright stems with thick, reddish-veined, light green leaves. Domed, slightly drooping clusters of fragrant, pinkish -purple flowers appear 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 which split open when ripe releasing their numerous silky-tailed seeds for dispersal by the wind.

Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars.


Missouri Native and food for Monarch butterflies. Treated only when necessary with non-systemic, biological insecticides as to not cause harm to the Monarch larvae.

Host plant for the following butterflies (nectar)-- American Copper, American Lady, Baltimore Checkerspot, Banded Hairstreak, Black Swallowtail, Bronze Copper, Cabbage White, Common Buckeye, Delaware Skipper, Eastern Tailed-Blue, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Fiery Skipper, Giant Swallowtail, Gray Hairstreak , Great Spangled Fritillary, Hoary Edge, Little Glassywing, Lorquin Admiral, Monarch (exclusive food source for the caterpillar), Mourning Cloak, Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, Pearl Crescent, Peck's Skipper, Pipevine Swallowtail, Queen, Question Mark, Red Admiral, Red-banded Hairstreak, Red-spotted Purple, Sachem, Silver-spotted Skipper, Silvery Checkerspot, Sleepy Orange, Southern Cloudywing, Spicebush Swallowtail, Spring Azure, Two-tailed Swallowtail , Variegated Fritillary, Viceroy, Zabulon, Zebra Longwing, Zebra Swallowtail

Host plant for the Monarch caterpillar (food source) and 11 other butterflies and moths!

Common Milkweed Growing and Maintenance Tips:

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Drought tolerant. Does well in poor, dryish soils. 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.


24-36 in



12 in


Hardiness Zone:

3 - 9

Characteristics & Attributes for Asclepias syriaca

Soil Moisture Preference
Attracts Wildlife
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Growth Habit
Drought Tolerant
Border or Bed
Mass Planting
Great Companion Plants for Asclepias syriaca
Coneflower Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus')
Blazing Star Blazing Star (Liatris spicata )
Beard Tongue Beard Tongue (Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red')
Blazing Star Blazing Star (Liatris ligulistylis )
Similar Plants to Asclepias syriaca
Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Swamp (Asclepias incarnata )
Butterfly Weed Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa )
Swamp Milkweed Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet')
Butterfly Weed Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow')