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Asclepias exaltata

...The Poke Milkweed
by Barry Glick
by Barry Glick

email: barry@sunfarm.com

Barry Glick has been involved in the plant world since 1954, when at the young, impressionable age of 5, he witnessed Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard on TV) put a cutting of a plant in a glass of water only to sprout roots a few shows later. Barry replicated the experiment with his one of his mother's prized Coleus plants, and as he watched the roots grow, knew that he was hooked for life.

Barry owns Sunshine Farm & Gardens in West Virginia - Zone 5 http://www.sunfarm.com/


January 17, 2010

Flowering in dappled sunlight to medium shade with curiously interesting white flowers, Asclepias exaltata brightens up any woodland or shade garden. It's commonly known as "The Poke Milkweed" for its resemblance to Phytolacca americana, "Pokeweed". The flowers are long lasting and weep down from atop 36" - 60" tall plants. After fertilization, the flowers fade and 6" to 10" vertical seed pods are set that persist all Summer and well into Autumn. These seeds are easy to collect and germinate. I like to collect them as soon as the first pods start to split open at the seams. At this point, it's easy to scrape them from their silky parachutes before they're dispersed into the air.

The genus name Asclepias is derived from the Greek name of Aesculapius, an ancient god of medicine. The common name "Milkweed" is for the milky sap that flows from a snapped stem in most species. In this species, the specific epithet exaltata refers to the tall height of the plants.

"Milkweeds" are very popular butterfly attractors. Asclepias exaltata attracts Silver-spotted Skippers, Pearl Crescents, Cloudywings, Great Spangled Fritillaries and Tiger Swallowtails to name a few.


Taxonomic Hierarchy

Kingdom Plantae - Plants

Subkingdom

Tracheobionta - Vascular plants

Superdivision

Spermatophyta - Seed plants

Division

Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants

Class

Liliopsida - Monocotyledons

Subclass

Asteridae

Order

Gentianales

Family

Asclepiadaceae

Genus

Asclepias

Species

exaltata

Common name - genus

"Milkweed"

Common name - species

"Poke Milkweed"

Synonyms

A. phytolaccoides

Native range

See - http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/topics.cgi

USDA Hardiness Zone

5, maybe 4

Light preference

Open bright shade

Soil fertility preference

Average to rich

Soil pH preference

neutral to slightly acidic

Soil moisture preference

Average to moist, not wet

Bloom time

Mid Spring to early Summer

Bloom color

White

Foliage

Dark green

Spread

12" - 24"

Height

36" - 60"

Deer palatability

Seems deerproof

Landscape uses

Specimen or colonial plantings in the shade garden, butterfly garden

Related species

Many species of "Milkweed"

Medicinal uses

See: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/ascle072.html


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© 2002 Barry Glick and Sunshine Farm & Gardens


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