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Showy Milkweed

Asclepias speciosa

Asclepias speciosa

Family: Asclepiadaceae - Milkweed Family

Asclepias is the only genus from this family represented at Arches National Park. Perennial herbs usually with milky latex; stems 2' to 3.3' (6 to 10 dm) tall

Leaves: opposite; simple; hairy; 2.4” to 9.2” (6 to 23 cm) long, 1.2” to 5.6” (3 to 14 cm) wide

Flowers: flowers in clusters; bisexual; 5 united purplish-rose petals which or lobed or cleft and folded downward; 5 parted or lobed sepals folded downward; 5 stamens; 2 pistils; plus a corona (an additional structure sitting between the petals and the stamens that looks like an extra set of petals). The corona consists of 5 hoods; inside the hoods there may be a beak-like structure (horn) pointing toward the center of the flower. The petal lobes are 0.4” to 0.6” (10 to 15 mm) long

Pollinators: insects (specifically bees, moths and butterflies); self-fertile

Fruits: pair of follicles; seeds typically have very silky hairs

Blooms in Arches National Park: May, June

Habitat in Arches National Park: weed in disturbed areas and riparian areas

Location seen: park road south of Salt Valley overlook around mile 10 to11, outside Arches National Park in Mill Creek

Other: The genus name, “Asclepias”, refers to “Asklepios”, a Greek physician and an authority on the medicinal use of plants and who according to Greek Myth could bring the dead to life. Hades fearing a loss of employment, convinced his brother Zeus to kill Asklepios with a bolt of lightning. The species name, “speciosa”, means “showy”.

Several species of Asclepias are poisonous to humans and livestock.

Did You Know?

Mule Deer

Feeding wildlife can be very detrimental to their health. It can destroy their natural ability to find food and create a dependency on humans. Animals that develop such a dependency often become aggressive toward humans and must be relocated or even killed.