Desert Milkweed

Common Names:
Desert Milkweed
Scientific name:
Asclepias erosa
Elevation range:
500 - 6,000 ft.
Flowering Months:
May, June, July
Height | Length:
18 - 30 in.
Life Cycle | Lifeform:
Perennial
Notes:
TOXIC, Food for insects & larvae, Attracts butterflies
Ancestral Usage:
food, medicinal
State Occurrences:
Desert region:
Mojave, Sonoran

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Desert Milkweed in the desert

Asclepias erosa is a perennial herb growing to a maximum height of 6 ft. It has a thick stalk and very large lanceolate leaves dark grey-green in color with a prominent midvein. Flowers are clustered in an umbel (umbrella) shape at the top of each stem. Joshua Tree National Park | April 2015  

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Desert Milkweed in the desert

Tarantula Hawk wasp collecting nectar from Asclepias erosa flowers, which are cream-yellow-green in color.  Joshua Tree National Park | April 2015 

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Desert Milkweed in the desert

The Tarantula Hawks on this Asclepias erosa are large and frightening in appearance but are generally docile toward humans. Their sting, if provoked, has been measured as the 2nd most painful sting in the world. They prey on tarantula spiders. Joshua Tree National Park | April 2015  

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Desert Milkweed in the desert

Asclepias erosa is a magnet for butterflies, native bees, wasps and other insects. This plant's importance to pollinators cannot be overstated, particularly for the Monarch butterfly. Joshua Tree National Park | April 21, 2015

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Desert Milkweed in the desert

Asclepias erosa leaves prior to blooming. Native American tribes collected the milky latex from the plant from which that made chewing gum. The viscuous liquid is mildly toxic. Wonder Valley, CA | March 2013   

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Desert Milkweed in the desert

Asclepias erosa is often found growing by the roadside. Ocotillo Patch, Joshua Tree National Park | April 2015