Sunday, February 21, 2010
Longleaf Milkweed - Asclepias longifolia
Longleaf milkweed (Asclepias longifolia) is found throughout Florida, and much of the Southeast, in moist to wet pinelands and savannahs. In these habitats, it receives plenty of sun and moisture. During much of the year, this milkweed is rather inconspicuous. As a deciduous species, it spends its winter dormant and beneath the soil surface. In early spring, it emerges, but is never much more than a few thin basal leaves. By late spring, each plant stands about 2 feet tall with a rigid, but thin, main stem and numerous 3-6 inch linear leaves.
The flowers occur in round umbels; several near the top of the main stem. They are small and whitish. The tips of the strongly recurved petals and the tips of the corollas are often a purplish pink. Blooming is most common in late spring, but may occur as late as early summer. Seed production follows about 6 weeks later.
Longleaf milkweed has never been offered (to my knowledge, anyway) for sale commercially by any nursery associated with AFNN (Association of Florida Native Nurseries) and it is not likely to as it is not as showy as other native milkweeds and is rather habitat sensitive. Despite that, this species has a charm all to itself and would warrant inclusion in a mixed wildflower savannah or wet meadow planting. It is easy to grow from seed if you are lucky enough to time it correctly. Longleaf milkweed is not a species I have ever grown in my home landscape, but we could search for it for propagation at Hawthoorn Hill if there was interest.