Asclepias sullivantii Engelm. ex A. Gray
  Dicotyledoneae   Asclepiadaceae   Asclepias

Asclepias sullivantii, leaf and flower
© Kay Yatskievych, 2003 · 1
Asclepias sullivantii, leaf and flower

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IDnature guide
Scientific source:

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FamilyScientific name @ source (records)
Pucciniaceae  Uromyces asclepiadis @ BPI (3)

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Asclepias sullivantii Englem.

Prairie Milkweed

Asclepias sullivantii plant

Family - Asclepiadaceae

Habit - Perennial forb with deep rhizomes, often colonial.

Stems - Ascending to erect, to 1.1 m, glabrous, often glaucous, stout, usually unbranched below the inflorescence, with milky sap, with 7-15 nodes.

Asclepias sullivantii stem2 Stem and leaf base.

Leaves - Opposite, sessile, simple, glabrous, entire, to 16 cm long, to 9 cm broad, lanceolate to oblong, green above, glaucous-blue below, rounded or truncate at the base, blunt to rounded at the tip but with a small, triangular mucro. Midrib whitish and clearly differentiated from the other leaf tissues. Veins anastomosing near the leaf margin.

Asclepias sullivantii leaf1 Leaf adaxial.

Asclepias sullivantii leaf2 Leaf abaxial.

Asclepias sullivantii leaves

Inflorescence - Pedunculate umbels, terminal and from the upper leaf axils, with 15-40 flowers. Peduncles to 4-5 cm long, glabrous, green. Rays of the umbel subtended by small lanceolate bracts. Bracts to 5 mm long, acute, glabrous. Rays (pedicels) purplish, 2 cm long, glabrous.

Asclepias sullivantii inflorescence2 Inflorescence.

Flowers - Calyx lobes 5, reflexed, glabrous, 4-6 mm long, lanceolate to ovate. Corolla lobes 5, reflexed, glabrous, pink to purplish-pink, sometimes tinged with green, 9-12 mm long, lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate. Gynostegium appearing sessile or very short-stalked (the column sometimes barely visible below the bases of the hoods), pink, the corona conspicuously longer than the tip of the anther/stigma head. Corona hoods 5.0-6.5 mm long, loosely ascending to ascending, attached near their bases, oblong to oblong-ovate in outline, the tip rounded to broadly rounded, the margins not toothed, with a pair of small, pouched areas near the base. Horns attached toward the hood bases, relatively short, bent or curved abruptly inward over the anther/stigma head and not extended past the tips of the hoods, sickle-shaped, relatively stout, slightly flattened, tapered to a sharp point at the tip. Anther column to 5 mm long, 4 mm in diameter. Pollinia 3 mm long. Terminator 0.8 mm long, deep purple. Anther sacs 2 mm long.

Asclepias sullivantii flowers2 Flowers and buds.

Asclepias sullivantii flower

Asclepias sullivantii flowers

Fruits - Follicles 8-10 cm long, erect or ascending from deflexed stalks, narrowly ovate to ovate and slightly arched in outline, the surface with small, warty, spinelike tubercles above the middle, glabrous or minutely hairy. Seeds with the body 7-8 mm long, the margins narrowly or relatively broadly winged, the terminal tuft of hairs white.

Flowering - June - July.

Habitat - Prairies, river bottoms, pond margins, forest openings, alluvial thickets.

Origin - Native to U.S. and Canada.

Other info. - This attractive species of milkweed can be found mainly in the northern half of Missouri, though it is not particularly common in the state. Its North American range includes the U.S. Midwest and extends into Canada. Of the milkweeds occurring in Missouri, this plant most closely resembles the common milkweed, A. syriaca ; however, in contrast to that species, A. sullivantii has completely glabrous parts, and larger flowers which are also fewer in number. A. syriaca is also typically taller than A. sullivantii and has hairy stems and leaves.

Photographs taken off Hwy 70, Callaway County, MO., 8-12-06 (DETenaglia); also at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 7-9-2012 and 7-2-2017 (SRTurner).

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Asclepias sullivantii Engelm. ex A. Gray
prairie milkweed

Image of Asclepias sullivantii

General Information
Symbol: ASSU3
Group: Dicot
Family: Asclepiadaceae
Duration: Perennial
Growth Habit : Forb/herb
Native Status : CAN   N
L48   N
Data Source and Documentation
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Native Status:
lower 48 status L48    Alaska status AK    Hawaii status HI    Puerto Rico status PR    Virgin Islands status VI    Navassa Island NAV    Canada status CAN    Greenland status GL    Saint Pierre and Michelon status SPM    North America NA   


click on a thumbnail to view an image, or see all the Asclepias thumbnails at the Plants Gallery

Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 3: 27. Provided by Kentucky Native Plant Society . Scanned by Omnitek Inc . Usage Requirements .




Click on a scientific name below to expand it in the PLANTS Classification Report.
Rank Scientific Name and Common Name
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Asteridae
Order Gentianales
Family Asclepiadaceae – Milkweed family
Genus Asclepias L. – milkweed
Species Asclepias sullivantii Engelm. ex A. Gray – prairie milkweed

Subordinate Taxa

This plant has no children

Legal Status

Threatened and Endangered Information:
This plant is listed by the U.S. federal government or a state. Common names are from state and federal lists. Click on a place name to get a complete protected plant list for that location.
Michigan Sullivant's milkweed Threatened
Minnesota Sullivant's milkweed Threatened
Wisconsin prairie milkweed Threatened

Wetland Status

Interpreting Wetland Status

North America
Eastern Mountains and Piedmont FAC
Great Plains FAC
Midwest FAC
Northcentral & Northeast FAC

Related Links

More Accounts and Images
Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ASSU3)
Kemper Center for Home Gardening (ASSU3)
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Information Network (ASSU3)
Native Plants Network (ASSU3)
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point Freckmann Herbarium (ASSU3)



Source Large Mammals Small Mammals Water Birds Terrestrial Birds


Source Large Mammals Small Mammals Water Birds Terrestrial Birds

Description of Values

Value Class Food Cover

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