Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
MILKWEED FAMILY (Asclepiadaceae)
IND. STATUS: OBL
FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A perennial herb, usually up to 1.4 m. high. The erect stems have opposite, lance-shaped to linear to oblong leaves on short leaf stalks. The base of the leaf abruptly narrows to a pointed, rounded, or nearly heart-shaped base. Cut stems or leaves exude a milky juice. The inflorescence occurs as several flat umbels (2 to 3 cm. in diameter) with pink to red flowers. Fruit is a long, narrow, smooth pod. In flower from June to August.
ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Marsh milkweed is common in several wetland communities in addition to sedge meadows, including shallow marshes. Curtis (1971) notes a higher presence in southern sedge meadows than in northern sedge meadows. Many birds use the fibers from old stems for nest building. Another common name is swamp milkweed.
SOURCE: Gleason and Cronquist (1991); and Swink and Wilhelm (1994).