IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This is a native perennial plant that is 1½-3' tall. It may develop as a single central stem, particularly when young, or branch outward to form a small bush in appearance. Older plants tiller at the base, with multiple stems emerging from the large taproot. The alternate leaves are medium green or yellowish green, and slightly shiny notwithstanding the presence of tiny hairs. They are linear or broadly linear in shape, about 3" long and ½" wide, with smooth margins. Unlike other milkweeds, this plant has a clear sap, and the level of toxic cardiac glycosides is consistently low (although other toxic compounds may be present). The erect clusters of bright orange flowers occur at the terminal point of stems toward the top of the plant, and are about 2-4" across. These flowers may bloom intermittently from early to late summer, depending on moisture levels, and are rather long-lasting. There is no floral scent. During late summer, seedpods develop that are about 4-5" long and ¾" thick, with a smooth surface that is slightly hairy. They eventually split open along one side and release the seeds, to which are attached large tufts of white hairs. Dispersion of the seeds is by wind. The root system consists of a woody taproot that is thick and knobby.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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