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Swamp milkweed
Asclepias incarnata

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

General Landscape Uses: Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations. Also wildflower and butterfly gardens.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A rare understory herb in freshwater wetlands.

Availability: Grown by one or two native plant nurseries in South Florida. Available in Groveland at Green Isle Gardens (321-436-4932), in Sarasota at Florida Native Plants Nursery (941-322-1915) and in Melbourne at Native Butterfly Flowers (321-626-7386).

Description: Erect medium to large wildflower. Leaves about 3 inches long.

Dimensions: Typically 3-5 feet in height. Taller than broad.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Widespread in North America south to Miami-Dade County and the Monroe County mainland. Rare in South Florida. Not documented on barrier islands in South Florida, but possibly historically present; it grows well at Pan’s Garden in Palm Beach.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Swamps, wet hammocks and wet prairies.

Soils: Wet to moist, poorly-drained to moderately well-drained organic soils, with or without humus.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Low; salt wind may burn the leaves.

Drought Tolerance: Low; requires moist to wet soils and is intolerant of long periods of drought.

Light Requirements: Light shade to moderate shade or full sun.

Flower Color: Bright pink and white or rarely white.

Flower Characteristics: Showy.

Flowering Season: Summer.

Fruit: Slender pod (follicle) with wind dispersed seeds.

Wildlife and Ecology: Larval host plant for monarch (Danaus plexippus) and queen (Danaus gilippus) butterflies; possible larval host of soldier (Danaus eresimus) butterflies. Nectar plant for Delaware skipper (Anatrytone logan), fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus), giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes), monarch (Danaus plexippus), ocola skipper (Panoquina ocola), sachem (Atalopedes campestris) and variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) and other butterflies. It also attracts bee pollintors and hummingbirds.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed.

Comments: See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday page and Monarchs & Milkweed flyer.

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: George D. Gann, 2017
In cultivation, Florida

Copyright by: Mary Keim

Copyright by: Susan Lerner, cultivated at Pan's Garden, Town of Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Monarch (Danaus plexippus) caterpillars on Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).

Copyright by: Susan Lerner, cultivated at Pan's Garden, Town of Palm Beach, Florida, USA.

Other data on Asclepias incarnata available from:

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