Ed Golson Outdoor Education

common milkweed

Common Milkweed

Scientific Name: Asclepias syriaca 

Description: Milkweed is usually considered to be an unwanted weed to farmers and gardeners, but it is very important to many different types of insects, such as the monarch butterfly . Common milkweed can grow up to 6 feet tall, but it usually is less than half that height. The leaves of the milkweed are broad shaped and are 4 to 10 inches long. The milkweed's flowers are purplish-pink in color. Each individual flower is small, but they grow together in large clusters that can be over two inches wide. If any part of the milkweed plant gets cut, a thick milky sap pours out. That's how the plant got its name.  

The "fruit" of the milkweed plant is a large rough pod. When the fruit ripens, it bursts, causing many small seeds to fly out. Each seed is very small and is surrounded by lots of fluff, which allows the seed to ride the wind for long distances.  

Milkweeds can grow in many different habitats , but are most common in fields , meadows , and along roadsides (as well as in many gardens).

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