Family: Apocynaceae (Dogbane family)
Height: 30-80 cm (1-2.6 ft)
Asclepias amplexicaulis Sm.
Stems: erect to semi-erect. The stem is a fleshy to green color and smooth.
Flowers: small, 5-parted flower. The inflorescence (or collective flowers) are in an umbel that can have up to 80 flowers on one stem. Each flower can be a green to pinkish-purple with varying intensity of both. The hoods are almost always pink or peach and 5 mm long. Horns curl in to a slender point.
Leaves: wavy and transversely veined 7-15 cm long. They are oppositely arranged and clasp the stem. One individual can have 2-5 pairs of leaves up the stem. The leaves are oval to broadly-oblong with rounded or cordate (heart-shaped) bases. Waxy looking, hairless with a stunning pink to white midrib.
Fruits: are follicles 10-13 cm long on downward curved pedicels.
Sun: full sun to filtered shade
Habitats: savannas, dry fields, prairies
Clasping milkweed is easy to tell apart from other milkweeds by its usually clasping and wavy leaves. The only other local milkweed that has sessile leaves is Sullivant's milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii). The horns on clasping milkweed are exserted well beyond the hoods whereas Sullivant's horns are shorter than the hoods.
Etymology: The genus Asclepias was named by Carl Linnaeus after the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius. The name, amplexicaulis, comes from the Latin words literally meaning "embracing the stem" or rather, "stem-clasping".
photo by Nathanael Pilla
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