Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Asclepias incarnata L.
APOCYNACEAE (Dogbane Family)
EtymologyAsclepias, named after Asklepios, the Greek god of medicine, because some of the species were used medicinally; incarnata means flesh-colored, from the Latin: in = in, into + caro = flesh + atus = is like.
Synonyms (Common Name)Rose Milkweed
DescriptionA summer-blooming perennial herb, swamp milkweed has clusters of rosy-pink to red flowers at branched ends of an erect, stout stem. It grows 2-4' tall. Like most milkweeds, it exudes a milky juice. Swamp milkweed is the only obligate wetland species of milkweed in New England. Two subspecies exist: smooth swamp milkweed (A. incarnata ssp. incarnata) is more branched, has leaves that are slightly hairy to smooth, and tends to occur in the western part of the region; downy swamp milkweed (A. incarnata ssp. pulchra (Ehrh. ex. Willd.) Woodson) is less branched, has broader, hairier leaves, and tends to occur along and closer to the coastal plain.
Wetland indicator statusOBL
Plant Height2-4 feet
LeavesOpposite, simple, entire, 3- 5" long; lanceolate to narrowly oblong, tapering to the tip, slightly rounded or heart-shaped base; prominent midvein below; hairy or slightly hairy or nearly smooth.
Flower/InflorescencePink to rose to red, small (1/4"); 5 sepals, 5 recurved petals; corona, or crown, of 5 horned, hood-like structures (approx. 1/8" long); in domed clusters up to 3" wide that are terminal or at branch ends.
Flowering PeriodJuly-August
FruitPod, slender, 2-4" long; opens along one side; contains many silky tufted seeds.
HabitatSwamps, margins of lakes, ponds and rivers.
RangeNova Scotia to Saskatchewan, south to Florida and New Mexico.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett