Showy Milkweed

A cluster of pinkish purple star shaped flowers in an orb shape
Showy Milkweed

NPS Photo/Tiffany Zadi


Showy Milkweed

Asclepias speciosa

Common Names: Showy Butterfly weed, Creek milkweed
Family: Asclepiadaceae
Flowering Season (Bryce Region): May - September
Size: 1.5 - 5 feet (0.5-3 m) in height
Range: Western U.S. and Canada

General Description

The Showy Milkweed has gray-green leaves, 4 to 7 inches long, oval and covered in velvety hairs. Flowers are in loose clusters at the top of stems that form in an orb shape made of fragrant, rose-white, star-shaped flowers. Stems and foliage exude milky latex sap when cut.


Showy milkweed grows in well-drained soil in full to nearly full sun, in pastures, meadows, forest clearings, untilled fields, roadsides, and ditch banks, from sea level to 6,250 ft.

Plant Lore

Milkweed plants are toxic to livestock who tend to avoid them as long as other forage is available. For people, milkweed can cause nausea and vomiting in low doses, and death in high doses. Historically, people have used milkweed plants for fiber, food and medicine. Stem fibers were used by Native Americans to make cloth, string and ropes, while the sticky sap was used to create chewing gum. Other uses included remedies for measles, rheumatism, and rattlesnake bites.

Further Reading

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service - Showy Milkweed

Last updated: April 30, 2023

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