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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin

MARSH MILKWEED

(Asclepias incarnata L.)


Marsh milkweed
Marsh milkweed

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).


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