How To Identify Wild Milkweed

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Boy, am I embarrassed! I brought home 3 plants that I thought were milkweed, nurtured them, photographed them, then, when I tried to identify them, I couldn't find anything close to what I had. I asked an expert and was told that my plants are just 3 varieties of wild lettuce. <blush>

What I learned the hard way is that just because it bleeds white, it isn't necessarily milkweed. I decided to do some serious research before heading back out into the field. Here's the best information I've found online for identifying milkweed:

Here is a detailed, interesting article about milkweed plants, which pointed out my first mistake--trying to identify milkweed by leaves instead of blossoms. Monarch Watch

This article from Countryside Magazine is really about cooking and eating milkweed, but I like the description about what the plants look like in various stages of development (asparagus spears in early spring--blossoms like broccoli in early summer, seed pods like okra in late summer). It also has some great photos of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The bad news for me is down in the "Finding and identifying milkweed" section, where it says that it's much more common in the eastern US.

All is not lost for those of us living in the West. The Oregon Milkweed Project has infomration, photos, and an action plan for encouraging monarchs. Here we have 2 common types of wild milkweed: Asclepias speciosa and Asclepias fascicularis.

When you have it identified, here's how to transplant milkweed.

Now that I think I know what I'm doing <GRIN> I'm off to start collecting. I'll update this page as soon as I have something to report. If any of you have something to share on this topic, please send me an email.

Copyright (c) 2007 Susan Molthop
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