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Common name: Showy milkweed
Scientific name: Asclepias speciosa
Duration: Perennial
Family: Milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae)
Habitat: Adapted to a wide range of soil and moisture conditions, from seasonally wet to dry. Does well with little competition from other plants. Common in roadsides, canal banks and open prairie.
Blooming period: Summer
Color: Rose, pink
Height: 3 - 5’
Planting Time: Fall or Spring; no stratification required

Pronunciation: Asclepias speciosa (as-KLEEP-ee-as spee-see-OH-suh)

Forage Value: This plant produces a milky sap and is generally avoided by livestock because of its bitter taste.

Historic Uses: Many Native American tribes have used fibers from the stems of milkweed plants for making ropes and cords. During World War II, the hair-like tufts coming off the seeds (see image) were collected and used for the floatation of life jackets. Although there are conflicting reports on the toxicity of the different parts of the milkweed plants, there are accounts of Native American’s using the plant as a food source after extensive boiling to remove toxins.

Miscellany: Showy milkweed is incredibly attractive to a multitude of pollinators. Monarch butterflies will only lay their eggs on the leaves of milkweed plants (Asclepais spp.). There is currently a large push in the West to encourage the planting of milkweed species for monarch habitat.
Showy milkweed can and will spread rhizomatously (underground shoots that send up more stalks). When planting this seed, be aware that it can aggressively spread.

Further Resources:
USDA Plant Guide for showy milkweed

Photo credits: Tom Koerner USFWS (top left), Ed Ogle (bottom left), Carson Sass (bottom right)

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1461 Thorn Creek Road, Genesee, Idaho 83832