Poke Milkweed

Following on the heel of last week’s story, “Seeds in Silk” about milkweed plants for monarchs, fellow blogger Gloria Schoenholtz posted “Poke Milkweed” on the Virginia Wildflowers website. She has graciously granted me permission to repost here as a guest blog.

 

Poke Milkweed

POKE MILKWEED

Asclepias exaltata

There are several species of milkweed in our area; the flowers might be pink, red, orange, green or white. Pictured above is a white species called poke milkweed or tall milkweed. It grows 3 to 6 feet in height and bears large, smooth leaves that are opposite and broadly elliptic in shape. When the plant is in bloom, drooping umbels of white flowers emerge from the upper leaf axils. The flowers may be shaded purplish or green.

 

milkweed flower
Milkweed flower. Note the 5 petals that are bent backwards and the crown of 5 white hoods, each bearing a single white, curved “horn” that is longer than the hood.

 

 

All milkweed flowers have a unique structure: there are 5 petals that bend backwards around a central crown of 5 incurved “hoods” that sometimes bear a single “horn”. Poke milkweed flowers follow this pattern, and in this case, the horns are longer than the hoods.

Milkweeds are probably best known for the white “milk” or latex that is exuded from the plant when a leaf or stem is broken. The milk can be toxic if ingested, although some people say that milkweed can be eaten if the plants are young and the cook who prepares them uses special precautions. As for me, I think I’ll pass on the eating part! I can enjoy them just the way they are!

Originally posted on
NEXT WEEK: Jekyll & Hyde: The American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
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Author: www.rosesintherainmemoir.wordpress.com

Just short of fifty years of holy matrimony, I am blessed to be a mother of two and grandmother of seven. Much of my writing speaks to the culture and tradition of the Deep South, where I spent the first thirty-five years of my life before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. As a poet and essayist, I’ve published both online and in print media. In mid-February 2019, I launched Roses in the Rain: A Daughter's Story, following a successful couple years of Invitation to the Garden, both on WordPress.com. Watch for upcoming installments to the memoir blog every Tuesday. The garden posts follow on Friday/Saturday. I look forward to hearing from you all!

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