Nearly three feet tall and featuring large oval leaves, desert milkweed (Asclepias erosa) looks nearly out of place in the arid desert. This native perennial gets the name “milkweed” as snapping a stem or leaf will cause rubbery white sap to leak from the plant. From May through June, you can find desert milkweed in bloom with many individual small white-green flowers growing at the top of the plant. After pollination, three inch long seed pods develop and release many feathery seeds. Both the monarch (Danaus plexippus) and queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus) eat desert milkweed when in the larval/caterpillar stage, making it an important plant for our migrating pollinators. Additionally, Native Americans used this plant as fiber for various materials & clothes, medicine, gum, and food. Look for it growing along the side of the Scenic Drive and SR-159 in gravelly areas.

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