For Your Garden - September 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.
prairie milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii)
Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Prairie milkweed plants grow naturally in Illinois in moist prairies. It may be found statewide in Illinois but is much more common in the northern two-thirds of the state. The plants may reach from two to five feet in height. The leaves are oblong, thick and up to seven inches long and three and a half inches wide and with a pointed tip. Leaves are arranged opposite each other on the stem. Leaf veins often appear red. Leaves and stem are smooth, and the sap is milky. Flowers are produced in one to several clusters at the stem tip. The pink-red flowers have the typical hourglass shape of milkweed flowers. The seeds pods are attractive in fall.
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.