Asclepias speciosa

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Asclepias speciosa
Asclepias speciosa1jakesmome.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Asclepias
A. speciosa
Binomial name
Asclepias speciosa
Asclepias speciosa, West Eugene wetlands, Oregon

Asclepias speciosa is a milky-sapped perennial plant in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), known commonly as the showy milkweed,[1] and is found in the Western half of North America.

Habitat and range[edit]

This species is native to the western half of North America.

Growth pattern[edit]

This flowering plant is a hairy, erect perennial.

Leaves and stems[edit]

The large, pointed, elongate, simple, entire leaves are arranged oppositely on stalks.

Inflorescence and fruit[edit]

The eye-catching, hirsute, pale pink through pinkish-purple flowers occur in dense umbellate cymes. Their corollas are reflexed and the central flower parts, five hoods with prominent hooks, form a star shape. The fruit is a large, rough follicle filled with many flat oval seeds, each with silky hairs.

This species flowers from May through September.[1]


Native Americans used fiber in the stems for rope, basketry, and nets.[1] Some Native Americans believed the milky sap had medicinal qualities, however, most species of milkweed are toxic,[1] particularly to livestock.[2]

The young leaves and seed pods can be boiled and eaten.[3]

Butterflies and moths[edit]

Asclepias speciosa is a specific monarch butterfly food and habitat plant. Additionally, phenylacetaldehyde produced by the plants attracts Synanthedon myopaeformis, the red-belted clearwing moth.[4] It is also a larval host for the dogbane tiger moth and the queen butterfly.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Sierra Nevada Wildflowers, Karen Wiese, 2nd Ed. 2013, p. 60.
  2. ^ Fagan, Damian (2019). Wildflowers of Oregon: A Field Guide to Over 400 Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs of the Coast, Cascades, and High Desert. Guilford, CT: FalconGuides. p. 187. ISBN 978-1-4930-3633-2. OCLC 1073035766.
  3. ^ Lyons, C. P. (1956). Trees, Shrubs and Flowers to Know in Washington (1st ed.). Canada: J. M. Dent & Sons. p. 196.
  4. ^ Eby, Chelsea; Gardiner, Mark G.T.; Gries, Regine; Judd, Gary J.R.; Khaskin, Grigori; Gries, Gerhard (2013-04-01). "Phenylacetaldehyde attracts male and female apple clearwing moths, Synanthedon myopaeformis, to inflorescences of showy milkweed, Asclepias speciosa". Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. 147 (1): 82–92. doi:10.1111/eea.12045. ISSN 1570-7458. S2CID 84552298.
  5. ^ The Xerces Society (2016), Gardening for Butterflies: How You Can Attract and Protect Beautiful, Beneficial Insects, Timber Press.

External links[edit]