North Carolina Wildflowers

by Jeffrey S. Pippen | Back to Jeff's Plant Page | Jeff's Nature Pages


Asclepiadaceae > Asclepias (milkweed)

Few-flowered Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata) Few-flowered Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata)
Brunswick Co., NC
14 Aug 2006

Uncommon in the NC coastal plain, the usual color pattern is to have orange-red petals with a lighter yellow-orange corona, as seen here. Click here for more photos of different flowers of Asclepias lanceolata.

Few-flowered Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata) Few-flowered Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata)
Brunswick Co., NC
14 Aug 2006

A few pairs of opposite, lanceolate leaves are found on the stem. Click here for more photos of different flowers of Asclepias lanceolata.

Few-flowered Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata) Few-flowered Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata)
Brunswick Co., NC
14 Aug 2006

Apparently very rare, however, is a form with pink-purple flowers! Note, two leaves are missing on the upper stem. Lower leaves show that the arrangement is indeed opposite on this plant. Click here for more photos of different flowers of Asclepias lanceolata.


Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Moore Co., NC
10 June 2006

True to its name, Butterfly Weed attracts many species of butterflies (like the Gray Hairstreaks shown here).

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Caswell Co., NC
17 June 2006

Fairly common statewide in NC along roadsides, powerlines, pastures, etc.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Caswell Co., NC
17 June 2006

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Person Co., NC
13 June 2006

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Caswell Co., NC
17 June 2006

Butterfly Weed color varies from a deep, rich coral red-orange to a pale yellow-orange.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
1 July 2005

As this cluster planted in my yard shows, it makes an excellent native addition to one's garden.


Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)
Durham Co., NC
2 Nov 2013

Native to the American tropics, Scarlet (or Tropical Milkweed) is often planted in gardens and ocassionally comes back from seed and persists, although it is not invasive.

Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)
Durham Co., NC
2 Nov 2013

Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)
Durham Co., NC
2 Nov 2013

Ripe seed pod with wind-dispersed seeds.

Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)
Durham Co., NC
2 Nov 2013

Note developing seed pods below flowers.

Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)
Collier Co., FL
17 Apr 2005

Blunt-leaved Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) Blunt-leaved Milkweed, Clasping Milkweed, Sand Milkweed
(Asclepias amplexicaulis)
Person Co., NC
13 Jun 2006

Common in and near various (usually dry) woodlands statewide in NC, note the wavy leaf margins and fairly loose inflourescence.

Blunt-leaved Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) Blunt-leaved Milkweed, Clasping Milkweed, Sand Milkweed
(Asclepias amplexicaulis)
Person Co., NC
13 Jun 2006

Blunt-leaved Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) Blunt-leaved Milkweed, Clasping Milkweed, Sand Milkweed
(Asclepias amplexicaulis)
Person Co., NC
13 Jun 2006


Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Dutchess Co., NY 19 Jun 04

Shown here with a Broad-winged Skipper, this Summer to Fall blooming species is a good nectar plant for butterflies and is found statewide in moist areas in NC.
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
St. Clair Co., MI
7 July 2012
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
St. Clair Co., MI
7 July 2012
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Washington Co., NC 19 Jun 04

With a Palamedes Swallowtail.
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
St. Clair Co., MI
7 July 2012

Savanna Milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata) Savanna Milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata)
Longleaf Pine savanna in Carteret Co., NC
26 Aug 2012

A rare plant in North Carolina, this species grows in pine savannas in the coastal plain.

Savanna Milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata) Savanna Milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata)
Longleaf Pine savanna in Carteret Co., NC
26 Aug 2012

Note the dull reddish fruit (follicle).

Savanna Milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata) Savanna Milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata)
Longleaf Pine savanna in Carteret Co., NC
26 Aug 2012

Mid-stem leaves

Savanna Milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata) Savanna Milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata)
Longleaf Pine savanna in Carteret Co., NC
26 Aug 2012


Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens)
Johnston Co., NC
29 May 2005

This milkweed is listed by the NC Natural Heritage Program as Significantly Rare in NC (known only from a few counties from the mountains to the western coastal plain).

Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens)
same as above

Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata) Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata)
Johnston Co., NC
29 May 2005

Widespread in NC

Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata) Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata)
Johnston Co., NC
29 May 2005
Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata) Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata)
Person Co., NC
13 June 2006
Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata) Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata)
Orange Co., NC
22 May 2008
Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata) Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata)
Orange Co., NC
22 May 2008

Note the red rings around the base of each flower.


Longleaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia) Longleaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia)
Brunswick Co., NC
13 Aug 2006

Uncommon in the NC coastal plain, this species is on the NC Natural Heritage Program Watch List.

Longleaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia) Longleaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia)
Brunswick Co., NC
13 Aug 2006
Longleaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia) Longleaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia)
Johnston Co., NC
29 May 2005
Longleaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia)

Longleaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia)

Johnston Co., NC
29 May 2005

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Orange Co., NC
15 June 2006

In NC, Common Milkweed is indeed common in the mountains, less common in the piedmont, and rare in the coastal plain.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Orange Co., NC
15 June 2006

Like many milkweeds, this species is an excellent nectar plant for butterflies.

Aphis nerii on Asclepias syriaca Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) with Oleander Aphid (Aphis nerii) infestation
Orange Co., NC
15 June 2006

Often found feeding on oleander, wax plant, and many milkweeds, the Oleander Aphis (also called the Milkweed Aphid) is golden yellow with black legs. Interestingly, all individuals of this aphid world-wide are thought to be females, and reproduction occurs by way of natural parthenogenetic cloning.

Aphis nerii on Asclepias syriaca Oleander Aphid (Aphis nerii) infestation on Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Orange Co., NC
15 June 2006

Natural predators of Oleander Aphids include parasitoid wasps, various fly larvae, and various beetles. Looks like this ladybird beetle is testing the dinner plate!

Click here for more photos showing the variability of Common Milkweed.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Washington Co., NC
21 June 2006

Two American Ladies and a Dion Skipper enjoy a rare disjunct patch of Common Milkweed growing in the North Carolina coastal plain.


Poke Milkweed, Tall Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata) Poke Milkweed, Tall Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)
Floyd Co., VA
23 June 2007

Grows along the edges of forested habitats in the NC mountains.

Poke Milkweed, Tall Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata) Poke Milkweed, Tall Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)
Floyd Co., VA
23 June 2007


hybrid milkweed

This population of milkweeds at Moses Cone Manor is believed to be composed of hybrids (Asclepias syriaca x A. exaltata)

Watauga Co., NC
26 July 2006
hybrid milkweed hybrid milkweeds (Asclepias syriaca x A. exaltata)
Watauga Co., NC
26 July 2006
hybrid milkweed hybrid milkweeds (Asclepias syriaca x A. exaltata)
Watauga Co., NC
26 July 2006

Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis) Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora)
Person Co., NC
13 June 2006

Uncommon throughout the piedmont and western coastal plain of NC, Green Milkweed is found along woodland edges and disturbed areas, often growing in high pH soils.

Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis) Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora)
Person Co., NC
13 June 2006


Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)
Durham Co., NC
5 Aug 2006

Statewide but uncommon in NC.

Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)
Durham Co., NC
5 Aug 2006

The skinny, whorled leaves are distinctive in this species.

Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)
Durham Co., NC
5 Aug 2006


Common Milkweed in field at Cone Meadows

Patches of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) are indeed common at Cone Meadows off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Watauga Co., NC
26 July 2006

Annotated habitat and distribution information listed above is from Radford, Ahles, & Bell. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. UNC Press; and from personal observations and discussions with Will Cook, Harry LeGrand, and Bob Wilbur. Common names from personal experience and supplemented by the following resources USDA plants website, Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia, and NatureServe.


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Created on ... May 7, 2006 | jeffpippen9@gmail.com