flowers are approximately ½” in width and are arranged in dense
rounded clusters at the terminal shoot. Each flower consists of 5
purplish-pink reflexed petals and a white central crown surrounded
by purplish-pink, white-edged, fleshy hoods. Milkweed is in flower
from June through August.
fruit, also known as a follicle, is light green and has roughly
textured skin. The fruit is rounded near the stem and tapers into a
point at the tip. Inside the dry fruit are numerous seeds arranged
in an overlapping pattern. Each seed is unilaterally bearded with a
long tuft of silky-white hair. When mature, the milkweed fruit turns
brown and bursts, releasing the bearded seeds.
leaves of the milkweed are light green and broadly ovate.
Oftentimes, the prominent mid-vein is deep red. The underside of
each leaf is covered in a heavy, light-gray down. The leaves are
many and are oppositely arranged positioned upward around the stem
forming a V.
grows in old fields, along roadsides, and around waste
is a medicinal plant. Its milky sap contains cardiac glycosides that
may be used to treat a variety of heart diseases.
Monarch butterfly is dependent on Milkweed for nutrition and
propagation. Milkweed sap is the sole food source of the Monarch
butterfly larvae. When Monarch larvae, along with other caterpillars
and beetles, ingest the sap, the cardiac glycosides give their blood
a toxic character that protects it against predators.
Milkweed is effectively disseminated by its hairy seeds, it can also
spread via rhizomatic activity. This method of growth can result in
vast underground root networks.