Asclepias exaltata (Poke Milkweed)
|Also known as:||Tall Milkweed|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; moist woods|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||3 to 5 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: UPL NCNE: UPL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in open droopy clusters at the end of naked stalks that arise from leaf axils in the upper part of the plant. Flowers are about 3/8 inch across and ½ inch long, have a 5-parted crown, with a horn sticking out of each of the 5 cylindrical hoods, a short column tucked in the center, and 5 flaring petals that bend back away from the flower. Crown color is creamy white to greenish or purplish, with light green petals. One plant usually has a few to several clusters.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are large and broad, to 6 inches long and 3 inches wide, roughly oval to egg-shaped, tapering to a point at both ends on a stalk ¼ to 1 inch long. Leaf edges may be slightly wavy, but are otherwise smooth. Attachment is opposite. The main stem is smooth and light green to purplish.
All Asclepias were formerly in family Asclepiadaceae but have been reassigned to Apocynaceae (Dogbane). Poke Milkweed is the most shade-tolerant of the Asclepias in Minnesota. Monarchs love it, as do rabbits. When I grew it at my former home in Lino Lakes, it was so loaded with Monarch larva I had to move some to other plants for fear they would completely decimate it!
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at William O'Brien State Park, Washington County, and in a private garden in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?