Description: Grows up to 2.5m tall, most often found in sunny open areas, such as pastures, meadows, roadsides. Has wide, oval-shaped leaves up to 25cm long with a noticeable central vein and smaller veins running toward edges. Leaves are smooth on top, velvety texture on underside. Plant does not have branches except near the top where umbels of small flowers form in round clusters up to 10cm diameter. Stems and leaves release a milky-white sap when broken. Flowers are pinkish-purple, pleasant smelling, highly attractive to many species of insects. Plant blooms for up to 6 weeks in early to mid-summer. After blooming, seed pods develop, between 6-12cm in length, with prickly exteriors. When seedpods mature, they crack open to reveal large clusters of small brown-black seeds with white, silky tufts that are transported by wind.
Found in BC, AB, SK, MB
Frequently encountered types of milkweed found in Canada
Other milkweed species are occasionally encountered in Canada, typically ones that are more common in the US. Some may have escaped from home gardens. If observed, record as “other” and enter a note and photo.
Found in SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, NS, PE
Description: Grows up to 1m in height but is often smaller. Most often found in dry, sunny locations with sandy or gravelly soil. Has hairy stems and narrow, oval leaves that taper to a point, 5–12 cm long and 2–3 cm wide. Easily distinguished from other milkweed species by its large clusters of bright orange (or orangey-yellow) flowers that bloom from late spring to early fall. Develops pods of small seeds with silk attachments common to all milkweeds, but sap is clear, not milky white as in other species.
Easy care, drought tolerant and deer resistant, Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow' (Butterfly Weed) is a bushy perennial prized for its brilliant clusters of bright golden yellow flowers which bloom continuously from early to late summer. Sitting atop upright flowering stems, clad with stiff, lance-shaped leaves, the colorful umbels are followed by attractive seed pods in the fall. When the seed pods open, they reveal seeds with long, silvery-white, silky hairs that look great in dried flower arrangements. The abundant foliage provides a dark-green backdrop which nicely compliments the cheerful flat umbel flowers. A great choice for the flower garden and for natural settings.
Milkweed plants are critical to the monarch butterflies survival, whose population in North America has plummeted by 90% in the last 20 years. By planting milkweed in your own garden, you can help reverse the fortune of these beautiful insects!