Asclepias lanuginosa (Woolly Milkweed)
|Also known as:||Side-cluster Milkweed|
|Habitat:||sun; dry prairies, open woods, rocky soil|
|Bloom season:||June - July|
|Plant height:||10 to 12 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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5-petaled, pale green to cream with some purplish out towards tips of the petals. Flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch long, in a single cluster 1½ to 2½ inches wide at the end of the main stem. Petals are variable from angled outwards and downward (typical) to tightly appressed against the flower stem (atypical, as seen in the leaves photo below). The 5 hoods surrounding the center crown do not extend above the flower center. Unlike most milkweeds, this one has no horns.
Leaves and stem:
Leaf shape is variable from narrow and long, with a semi-pointed tip (typical) to broadly long and rounded tip (atypical, see more photos below). From this variation it can range from 1/3 to 1¼ inches wide and 1 to 4 inches long. Leaves have fine woolly hairs on both upper and lower surfaces, are toothless, and irregularly spaced on the stem. Stems are weakly erect to ascending, unbranched, with 2-3 stems per plant, and densely covered in spreading hairs.
Fruit is a fuzzy pod containing numerous flat brown seeds, each with a tuft of white hair to carry it off in the wind.
This milkweed is not common in Minnesota. While not officially considered “rare” here, it is elsewhere in its North American range, listed as Threatened or Endangered in much of it. This is a difficult plant to locate even when you know it is there. I have not yet observed a seed pod on this species.
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Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken at Grey Cloud Dunes SNA, Washington County, MN
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?