Asclepias incarnata L.
Swamp milkweed, Pink Milkweed
Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed Family)
USDA Symbol: asin
The large, bright, terminal blossoms of this showy, 2-4 ft. perennial are made up of small, rose-purple flowers. Deep pink flowers clustered at the top of a tall, branching stem, bearing numerous narrow, lanceolate leaves. Opposite, narrow, lance-shaped leaves line the erect, open-branched stem. Elongated, tan-brown seed pods persist into winter.
The juice of this wetland milkweed is less milky than that of other species. The genus was named in honor of Aesculapius, Greek god of medicine, undoubtedly because some species have long been used to treat a variety of ailments. The Latin species name means flesh-colored.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Lanceolate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acute
Leaf Base: Rounded
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Size Notes: Plant 3-6 in height. Follicles 7-9 cm long, 1.2 cm in diameter.
Flower: Sepals 5
Fruit: Green, 5 in.
Size Class: 3-6 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WI , WV , WY
Canada: MB , NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Manitoba, Quebec, and Nova Scotia; from New England south to Georgia; west to Louisiana, and Texas; north to North Dakota.
Native Habitat: Wet Meadow, Prairie, Field, Riparian, Swamp, Marsh
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Rich, wet, very muddy to average garden moisture. One of the few ornamentals that thrives in mucky clay soils. Prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil but will tolerate heavy clay.
Conditions Comments: With its showy flower clusters that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, swamp milkweed is underutilized in gardens. In moist soils or in a pond, it will thrive. The interesting seed pods look like other milkweeds. Swamp milkweed will inevitably have aphids. The insects are not a problem unless the plant looks sick; at that point an effective treatment is to spray the plant and aphids with soapy water. Another possible treatment is to support the plant part with your hand and blast it with high-pressure water. Good for wetland gardens and habitat.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Herbaceous perennial forming stately clump of upright stems with long narrow leaves and heads of fragrant soft mauve pink flowers, composed of many small intricate flowers.
Use Wildlife: Milkweeds are an important food source for the monarch caterpillar.
Use Food: Although milkweeds are poisonous raw, the young shoots, leaves and seed pods are all edible cooked. When placed in cold water, brought to a boil and simmered till tender, milkweeds are said to be delicately flavoured and harmless. (Poisonous Plants of N.C. State) The flower buds, nectar-sweet flowers and seeds are also edible. (Kershaw)
Warning: All parts. Toxic only in large quantities. Syptoms include, vomiting, stupor, weakness, spasms. Toxic Principle: Cardiac glycosides and resinoids.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Larval Host: Monarch and Queen butterflies.
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: High
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees
Supports Conservation Biological Control
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)Asclepias incarnata is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Learn more at BAMONA
Learn more at BAMONA
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds
Description: Easy to start from seed. Established plants may be divided in spring.
Seed Collection: Watch plants closely and collect seed in October, November.
Seed Treatment: Heat helps germination.
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
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From the National Suppliers DirectoryAccording to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
Amandas Garden - Springwater, NY
Sunshine Farm & Gardens - Renick, WV
Enchanter's Garden - Hinton, WV
Ohio Prairie Nursery - Hiram, OH
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Toadshade Wildflower Farm - Frenchtown, NJ
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 928 - 100 easy-to-grow native plants for Canadian gardens (2005) Johnson, L.; A. Leyerle
Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Recommended Species Lists
Find native plant species by state. Each list contains commercially available species suitable for gardens and planned landscapes. Once you have selected a collection, you can browse the collection or search within it using the combination search.View Recommended Species page
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Asclepias incarnata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Asclepias incarnata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Asclepias incarnata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff, RLU