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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Prairie Wildflowers and Grasses of North Dakota

Late-Summer Wildflowers

Chris Grondahl photo: Showy milkweed (inset shows flower buds)
Chris Grondahl
  Showy milkweed
(Asclepias speciosa)

Distribution: statewide
Habitat: moist prairie, open draws and ditches
Flowers: pinkish-purple in color
Height: 20-40 inches
Blooms: late June to August
Family name: Milkweed (Asclepiadaceae)
Plant uses and other interesting facts: Many similarly related species. Showy milkweed is often confused with Common milkweed (A. syriaca). The two species can hybridize. If eaten by livestock milkweed can produce symptoms of poisoning and even death, but this is seldom a problem since it is distasteful. Monarch Butterflies are totally reliant upon milkweed and lay their eggs on several milkweed species. As the larvae hatch they feed on the foliage which in turn protects them by making them distasteful and toxic to birds.

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