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Asclepiadaceae: Milkweed Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Asclepiadaceae
Plants of the Milkweed Family

Now considered a subfamily of the Dogbane family.

Asclepias speciosa. Showy Milkweed.

      The Milkweeds are perennial herbs, shrubs or rarely trees, usually with acrid, milky juice and opposite or sometimes whorled leaves. The flowers are bisexual and regular, typically grouped in clusters. There are 5 separate sepals and 5 united petals, plus in some species a corona (different from the corolla) that looks like an extra set of petals. The corona consists of 5 hood-like forms facing towards the center of the flower. Inside the corona there are 5 stamens fused to the ovary. The ovary is positioned superior. It consists of 2 mostly-separate carpels. Each carpel matures as a separate follicle, a pod-like dry fruit with a seam down one side. The pods are filled with numerous seeds with silky tufts. Worldwide, there are 250 genera and 2,000 species, mostly native to the tropics. The waxplant (Hoya) is a common houseplant from this family. There are 5 genera across the United States including Cynanchum, Gonolobus, Matelea, and Sarcostemma.

Key Words: Plants with opposite leaves, milky juice and big pods. Irregular, crown-like flowers.

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Asclepias speciosa. Showy Milkweed.

Asclepias speciosa. Showy Milkweed.

Asclepias speciosa. Showy Milkweed.

Asclepias speciosa. Showy Milkweed.

Balloonplant: Asclepias physocarpa.

Balloonplant: Asclepias physocarpa.
Balloon plant is native to southeast Africa.

Balloonplant: Asclepias physocarpa.

Balloonplant: Asclepias physocarpa. Also known as Gomphocarpus physocarpus.

Butterfly Weed: Asclepias tuberosa.

Butterfly Weed: Asclepias tuberosa.

Tropical Milkweed: Asclepias curassavica.

Asclepias curassavica. Tropical Milkweed. Photographed near Mexico City.

There are more
Milkweed Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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