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Low, wet areas and pond margins are ideal habitats for aquatic milkweed, and the small-statured plant can even be grown in a container. It develops umbels of 2” white flowers with pink tips from May to September, and its clusters of erect, purplish-green stems are lined with elliptical, green leaves that host three specialists: monarch, milkweed tussock moth, and unexpected cycnia--that lay their eggs only on the leaves of milkweed plants. Also known as white swamp milkweed, A. perennis is different from A. incarnata, or swamp milkweed, which is taller and prefers more sun. Aquatic milkweed is found in low, wet woods; swamps; lake margins with shade; and wet ditches. It thrives in wet, rich soils and full to part sun, tolerating clay or sand and occasional standing water.  Although aquatic milkweed doesn’t occur in Ohio, it is native to our neighboring states, Indiana and Kentucky, and further south to Texas and Florida. Because wildlife species are shifting northwards, we feel it is important to help their host plants follow suit. Plant with other native water-lovers, such as Joe-pye weed, buttonbush, and cardinal flower.


Height: 1-3’ tall and 1-2’ wide.


Sun: Full sun to part shade.


Soil: Wet to consistently moist soils with plenty of organic matter. Tolerates clay and sandy soils.


Wildlife Value: Aquatic milkweed is a host plant for 12 species of Lepidoptera larvae, including the queen and soldier butterflies and the Isabella tiger, lined ruby tiger, and cecropia moths. Butterflies, moths, bees, and moths visit for nectar. Mammals avoid the foliage, which contains bitter-tasting, toxic, milky latex.


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Milkweed, Aquatic, Asclepias perennis

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