Plantae > Tracheophyta > Magnoliopsida > Gentianales > Apocynaceae > Asclepias > Asclepias syriaca

Asclepias syriaca (broadleaf milkweed; common milkweed)


Wikipedia Abstract

Asclepias syriaca, commonly called common milkweed, butterfly flower, silkweed, silky swallow-wort, and Virginia silkweed, is a species of flowering plant. It is in the genus Asclepias, the milkweeds. This species is native to southern Canada and of much of the conterminous eastern U.S., east of the Rocky Mountains, excluding the drier parts of the prairies. It grows in sandy soils and other kinds of soils in sunny areas. It was one of the earliest North American species described in Cornut's 1635 work Canadensium Plantarum Historia. The specific name was reused by Linnaeus due to Cornut's confusion with a species from Asia Minor.
View Wikipedia Record: Asclepias syriaca


Allergen Potential [1]  Medium-Low
Edible [2]  May be edible. See the Plants For A Future link below for details.
Flower Type [2]  Hermaphrodite
Hazards [2]  Although no specific reports have been seen for this species, many, if not all, members of this genus contain toxic resinoids, alkaloids and cardiac glycosides; They are usually avoided by grazing animals; The older leaves are poisonous if eaten in large quantities; The plant contains cardioactive compounds and is potentially toxic;
Lifespan [2]  Perennial
Pollinators [2]  Bees, Insects, Lepidoptera, Lepidoptera
Scent [2]  The flowers diffuse a delicious scent into the garden.
Structure [3]  Herb
Usage [2]  A good quality fibre is obtained from the inner bark of the stems. It is long and quite strong, but brittle; It can be used in making twine, cloth, paper etc; The fibre is of poor quality in wet seasons; It is easily harvested in late autumn after the plant has died down by simply pulling the fibres off the dried stems; It is estimated that yields of 1,356 kilos per hectare could be obtained from wild plants; The seed floss is used to stuff pillows etc or is mixed with other fibres to make cloth; It is a Kapok substitute, used in Life Jackets or as a stuffing material; Very water repellent, it can yield up to 550 kilos per hectare; The floss absorbs oil whilst repelling water and so has also been used to mop up oil spills at sea. Candlewicks can be made from the seed floss; In cultivation, only 1 - 3% of the flowers produce mature pods; It is estimated that yields of 1,368 kilos per hectare could be obtained from wild plants; Rubber can be made from latex contained in the leaves and the stems; It is found mainly in the leaves and is destroyed by frost; Yields of 197 kilos per hectare can be expected from wild plants, it is estimated that by selection these yields could be increased to 897 kilos; Yields are higher on dry soils; The latex can also be used as a glue for fixing precious stones into necklaces, earrings etc; The latex contains 0.1 - 1.5% caoutchouc, 16 - 17% dry matter, and 1.23% ash. It also contains the digitalis-like mixture of a- and b-asclepiadin, the antitumor b-sitosterol, and a- and b-amyrin and its acetate, dextrose and wax; Pods contain an oil and a wax which are of potential importance. The seed contains up to 20% of an edible semi-drying oil; It is also used in making liquid soap;
Height [2]  39 inches (1 m)
Width [2]  39 inches (1 m)
View Plants For A Future Record : Asclepias syriaca

Protected Areas





Institutions (Zoos, etc.)

Institution Infraspecies / Breed 
Svalbard Global Seed Vault


North America;

External References

USDA Plant Profile



Attributes / relations provided by
1Derived from Allergy-Free Gardening OPALS™, Thomas Leo Ogren (2000)
2Plants For A Future licensed under a Creative Commons License
3Kattge, J. et al. (2011b) TRY - a global database of plant traits Global Change Biology 17:2905-2935
4Study of Northern Virginia Ecology
5HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants Gaden S. Robinson, Phillip R. Ackery, Ian J. Kitching, George W. Beccaloni AND Luis M. Hernández
6Biological Records Centre Database of Insects and their Food Plants
7Jorrit H. Poelen, James D. Simons and Chris J. Mungall. (2014). Global Biotic Interactions: An open infrastructure to share and analyze species-interaction datasets. Ecological Informatics.
8Robertson, C. Flowers and insects lists of visitors of four hundred and fifty three flowers. 1929. The Science Press Printing Company Lancaster, PA.
Protected Areas provided by Biological Inventories of the World's Protected Areas in cooperation between the Information Center for the Environment at the University of California, Davis and numerous collaborators.
Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve
Chippewa Nature Center
Edwin S. George Reserve, University of Michigan, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Maher Sanctuary, Grand Rapids Audubon Club
Western Michigan University’s Asylum Lake
Abstract provided by DBpedia licensed under a Creative Commons License