Ontario Wildflowers website

Common Milkweed
Asclepias syriaca

Other common names: Milkweed, Silkweed

Family: Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae), (Milkweed Family (Asclepiadaceae))

Group: Milkweeds

Distinctive features: Milky sap. Very common. Small black disc-like seeds carried by the wind on silky parasols.

Similar species:
  •   Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

  •   Poke Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)

Flowers: Summer;  Red/Pink;  5 parts (petals);  Rose to purple in a cluster at top of the plant. Typical milkweed flowers in structure.

Leaves: Broad, elliptical, opposite.

Height: 60-120 cm (23-47 in)

Stem: Milky sap.

Fruit/Seeds: Small disc-shaped black seeds carried by the wind on silky parasols.

Habitat: Fields and Open Areas;  Dry open fields.

Grows in Sun/Shade: Sun

Edible: The flower heads can be fried in batter and eaten.

Poisonous: The milky sap is poisonous.

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 264    Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers: 294    ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario: 137   

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Common.

Notes: Monarch butterflies and their caterpillars love milkweeds.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: syriaca: of Syria

See Also:
  •   Great Americans: Monarch's Milkweed, from The Monday Garden, by Sue Sweeney
  •   Great Americans: The Monarch's Milkweed, from The Monday Garden, by Sue Sweeney

Photographs: 149 photographs available, of which 9 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

A photo of the whole plant.

Note the broad leaves.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Flower cluster.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Sometimes the flowers appear greenish.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Flowers just opening.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

A young Common Milkweed in the spring.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Seed pods in later summer, early fall. Once the seed pods mature and dry out, they crack open and release many seeds borne by the wind on a plume of silky hairs.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Seeds just being released from the pods.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Inside of empty pods, in winter.

Range map for Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)