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Common Milkweed

Scientific name

Asclepias syriaca


Common Milkweed is a perennial wildflower species that typically grows less than 1 m in height. The stem is thick, green, finely-haired, and tapers slightly towards the top of the plant. The leaves are alternately arranged, large and wide, broadly oblong in shape, and have entire margins. The upper leaf surface is pale-medium to dark green and hairless with a prominent central vein, while the lower leaf surface is densely covered with short hairs. When either the central stem or leaves are torn, a milky sap oozes out. The flowers are whitish pink to reddish purple coloured, have five tiny petals, are fragrant, appear in globe shaped clusters at the top of the plant, and bloom between June and August. The flowers turn into long seedpods that are rounded at one end, pointed at the other end, and covered with soft prickles and short woolly hairs. In the fall, the seedpods split open to release numerous hairy seeds to be dispersed by wind. Common Milkweed is easy to grow and is low maintenance. This wildflower spreads well and can be used to naturalize un-vegetated areas. The roots can be useful for controlling erosion and stabilizing shorelines. The flowers are beneficial to pollinator species, like bees and butterflies. It is also a larval host for caterpillars of the endangered Monarch Butterfly, thus planting this species where possible can help protect this species at risk.

Planting conditions

Common Milkweed grows best in normal to moist conditions with full or partial sun exposure. It prefers sandy, loamy, or clay soil types. It can tolerate drought and dry soil but young plants should be watered occasionally until established. This wildflower can be naturally found in moist to dry prairies, sand dunes along lake shorelines, open forests, forest edges, meadows and fields, pastures, vacant lots, and along roadsides.


  • Plant height:
    • Max 1.5m
    • Max 2m
    • Max 3m
    • Any
  • Moisture level:
    • Dry
    • Normal
    • Moist
    • Drought Tolerant
  • Light conditions:
    • Full sun
    • Partial sun
  • Soil type:
    • Sandy
    • Loamy
    • Clay
    • Rocky
  • pH:
    • Normal
  • Depth:
    • Wildflower
  • Eco Zone:
    • 4a
    • 4b
    • 5a
    • 5b
    • 6a
    • 6b
    • 7a
  • Plant type:
    • Wildflower
  • Height:
    • 1 m
  • Spread:
    • 0.5 m