Asclepias exaltata L.
Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed Family)
Synonym(s): Asclepias bicknellii, Asclepias phytolaccoides
USDA Symbol: asex
Asclepias exaltata is a tall milkweed frequently found on the edges of forests. It resembles the Common Milkweed, A. syriaca, and has been known to hybridize with this species in areas where both occur in close proximity. The leaves can be quite large on plants growing in moist shaded conditions. Umbels are pendulous with relatively few flowers. Strikingly aromatic when in bloom (Webref 20).
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Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Lanceolate , Ovate
Size Notes: 2-6 ft (60-182 cm) but can exceed 6 ft under favorable conditions.
Leaf: Elongated, narrow elliptic ending in a sharp tip, up to11 inches but generally 2-10 in (5-25 ½ cm) long and 1-4 in (2 ½ – 10 cm) wide. Top of the leaf is smooth and underside is hairy. Veins in the leaves have a purple tone to them in contrast to the green color of the leaves.
Flower: Umbels weep down with each flower on a long pedicel with 10+/- flowers per umbel. Color is white with lavender to green tinges. Stems of the umbels are a purplish color. Horns protrude through the hoods. Corolla reflexes backward. Corolla, hoods, and horns are a light pink color.
Fruit: Seed color is dark Brown.
Size Class: 3-6 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink , Green
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug
DistributionUSA: CT , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: ON , QC
Native Habitat: Shores, woodlands, and woodland edges.
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Description: Seems to require moderate moisture and rich organic content.
Conditions Comments: Full sunlight to partial shade along forest edges.
BenefitWarning: All parts. Toxic only in large quantities. Syptoms include, vomiting, stupor, weakness, spasms. Toxic Principle: Cardiac glycosides and resinoids. (Poisonous Plants of N.C. State)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
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.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
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Web ReferenceWebref 20 - Milkweed Profiles (0) Monarch Watch
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Asclepias exaltata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Asclepias exaltata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Asclepias exaltata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2016-08-05
Research By: TWC Staff