Asclepiadaceae Asclepias latifolia

Six photos of varies closeups of small yellow flowers in an umbrella shape with large oval shaped green leaves.

Asclepias latifolia

Family: Asclepiadaceae – Milkweed Family

Asclepias is the only genus from this family represented at Arches National Park. Perennial herbs usually with milky latex; plant 7.87” to 2.6' (2 to 8 decimeters) tall

Leaves: opposite; simple broad leaves; entire; no hairs; 1.6” to 8” (4 to 20 cm) long; 1.6 to 5.2 inches (4 to 13 cm) wide

Flowers: 5 united (lobed or cleft) pale green petals 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. Bisexual; flower lobes 0.44” to 0.48” (11 to 12 mm) long

Pollinators: bees, moths and butterflies

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

Blooms in Arches National Park: May, June, July, August, September

Habitat in Arches National Park: disturbed sites, desert shrub, pinyon-juniper and hanging garden communities

Location seen: park road mile 0 to 2.5, across from Park Avenue parking lot, park road near Salt Valley Overlook (around mile 13 to 15), Fiery Furnace

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, “latifolia”, means “wide leaves”.

The green plants before and during the flowering stage are poisonous to sheep, cattle, and goats. Poisoning has occurred early in the spring before the grass had started to grow.

Last updated: November 27, 2021

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