Michaux’s Milkweed, Beach Botany

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Michaux’s Milkweed, Asclepias michauxii, is an herbaceous perennial that resides in sandhills, flatwoods, bogs and marshes. It’s a rather small plant varying from 4” to 2’ high. The plant has a single erect stem with narrow linear leaves that are simple. Leaf arrangement is both alternate and opposite. Margins are entire. Leaves are about 4” in length and ¼” wide. Stem and leaves are glabrous.

Flowers are bisexual and complex. The flower’s corolla has five petals that droop downward. At the middle of the corolla is a large sticky female stigma connected to two fused female pistils. Surrounding the stigma are five curved appendages called hoods.  Surrounding the stigma are five curved appendages called hoods. Hoods are a form of sterile male stamens. In the walls of the hoods are pollen glands. Five flowers are clustered into an umbel. The umbel is the inflorescence. Flower colors vary between whitish, reddish and greenish-yellow with some purple markings. Fertilization of flowers requires a pollinator to transfer pollen from another plant. This is called cross-pollination.

Andre Michaux (1770 – 1855) was a French botanist that studied plants in America.  He was the one who discovered this wild flower. The specimen in the picture was found on a high sand hill in Citrus County. Yes, Michauxii is a larval host to the Monarch Butterfly.