ACommon Milkweed Asclepias Syriaca

ACommon Milkweed Asclepias Syriaca

Common Milkweed Asclepias Syriaca

Papilionaceous Milkweed, Asclepias papilionacea, is a plant in the plantain family within the order Asclepiadaceae. It is also known as Common Milkweed, Common Milkweed Asclepias, Common Milkweed, Papilonaceous Milkweed, Common Milkweed, American Milkweed, Milkweed, and Milkweed Asclepias.More than 450 insects species feed on A. syriaca, including flies, beetles, ants, bees, wasps, and butterflies; it is an important food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars (Danaus plexippus); other species that feed on the plant include red milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus), the milkweed tussock caterpillar (Euchaetes egle) and Oncopeltus fasciatus and Lygaeus kalmii.


The Common Milkweed is the plant that most people associate with the word �milkweed�. This is a tall and conspicuous species that sometimes forms large clones. The umbels bear large balls of pink to purplish flowers that have an attractive odor.Euell Gibbons, the author of Stalking the Wild Asparagus (1962), wrote that milkweed is bitter and toxic. However, he may have inadvertently prepared common dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum), a poisonous somewhat similar-looking plant instead. Gibbons devised a method to remove the bitterness and toxicity by plunging the young shoots into boiling water and cooking for one minute, repeating the procedure at least three times to make the plant safe to eat. Some modern foragers consider the bitterness and toxicity issue a myth. The plants have no bitterness when tasted raw, and can be cooked like asparagus, with no special processing.

This species is known to form hybrids with both A. exaltata (in the east) and A. speciosa (in the west). Follicles split open in the fall and early winter dispensing wind borne seeds. Among the milkweeds, this species is the best at colonizing in disturbed sites. Within its range it can be found in a broad array of habitats from croplands, to pastures, roadsides, ditches and old fields. It is surprisingly rare in prairies in the Midwest being found mostly in disturbed sites within these habitats. As an indigenous species of the southern Great Plains, it has all the attributes of what some ecologists call a �fugitive species�. That is, one whose appearance and persistence is dependent on disturbance due to its inability to compete with other vegetation. In the northern parts of its range it seems to be a more permanent member of the floral communities. (Source: www.wildflower.org)



Related Articles