African Garden + wildflowers

Wildflower Wednesday: Asclepias purpurascens

I've discovered a fantastic native plant for the garden. It's very apt for this Wildflower Wednesday (thank you Gail!), as this is also Pollinator Week. Purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) attracts pollinators of all sorts.


carpenter ants

I'm so grateful to them, as the reason I'm growing this plant is for the seeds I'll be collecting for the Native Seed Gardeners program.
I needed a milkweed that wasn't orange and able to survive in my garden without trying to take over. Asclepias purpurascens sounded just the plant, so when I learned that Native Seed Gardeners was offering free plants in exchange for the seeds, I jumped in. Of the three baby plants I put into the ground last year, two survived, only one blooming for the first time this year.
Purple milkweed is kind of a misnomer. The buds and blooms are actually a rich rosy pink to magenta.

The buds are almost as attractive as the blooms.

The base of the stems and the leaf veins are also pink.
The surprising thing about this plant is the scent. To me, it is reminiscent of cinnamon. I wish you could smell it.
While widely distributed throughout the eastern half of the United States, it is endangered in Massachusetts and Wisconsin. It is usually found in moist meadows, and in dry areas of oak/hickory savannas. I have it planted where it receives the overflow from the rainbarrel.

Asclepias purpurascens is a host plant for Monarch butterfly larva. It gets 2-3 feet tall, and grows in Zones 5 to 9 in sun to part shade. All plant parts are poisonous, but toxic only in large quantities. I don't have any photos of the seedpods because it hasn't formed any yet here at Squirrelhaven.
So if you are looking for a milkweed with gorgeous flowers, great scent, and is well behaved, consider planting purple milkweed. The pollinators will thank you.

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Wildflower Wednesday: Asclepias purpurascens + wildflowers