For Your Garden - July 2011
Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year. Consider adding a few native plant species to your garden soon!
poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)
Photo © River Valley Photographic Resources, Ltd., rvprltd.com
Poke milkweed grows in woodland edges throughout Illinois, although it is not common in any part of the state. Growing to a height of from three to six feet, the plant has stalked leaves in pairs along the stem. As with all milkweeds, the sap is milky white, and the five petals of each flower point back to the flower stalk while supporting a five-parted central cup. Flowers in this species are white and may have some purple or green showing. Flowers are produced in June and July. Flower clusters arise on a stalk from the base of the leaf and droop toward the ground. The fruit is a pod that contains seeds attached to silky strands that aid in dispersal by the wind.
Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.