For Your Garden - November 2014
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.
purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens)
Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Purple milkweed grows statewide in Illinois in prairies and along the edges of woods. Its maximum height is about three feet. Leaves are oval and arranged oppositely on the stem. The leaves are large and may be eight inches long and four inches wide. Flowers develop in spherical clusters at the top of the plant. Each flower has its own stalk. The flowers are red-purple with five reflexed petals and five hoods per flower. Flowering occurs from May through July. The fruits are smooth pods, up to six inches long and less than one inch wide.
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.