Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fewflower Milkweed - Asclepias lanceolata

Fewflower milkweed is a tall thin species with thread-like linear leaves and small heads of bright orange blooms.  It occurs throughout Florida in open marshes, wet prairies and savannahs, and in much of the Southeast.  For much of the year, this milkweed is inconspicuous within the surrounding foliage.  It is completely deciduous during the winter and when it emerges in the spring it consists of a very thin stem and long thin opposite leaves.  Eventually, it reaches a mature height of about 4-5 feet. 
Flowering occurs in early summer.  Atop the main stem and on a very few side branches, flower buds are formed which contain less than 10 flowers each.  These flowers may be small in number, but are a brilliant orange to nearly brick red in color. 
Fewflowered milkweed makes a very interesting addition to a mixed wildflower planting in open wet-soil conditions.  It does not thrive if soils remain dry for too long, but it will handle part sun reasonably well.  We have grown this species for several years in our wetland wildflower planting, but it is a bit touchy concerning conditions and we have not propagated it to any real extent.  If you are interested in it, please let us know and we will make a greater effort to bring it into cultivation.

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