Pictured above: Florida milkweed (Asclepias feayi) by Kate Dolamore. Click on terms for botanical definitions. View post as a PDF.
Florida milkweed (Asclepias feayi) is a dainty endemic at home in the sandhills and scrubby flatwoods of central and south Florida. It emerges from winter dormancy in spring and typically blooms mid-summer. The species epithet feayi honors physician and botanist William T. Feay.
A thin herbaceous stem bears few long slender opposite leaves. Terminal flower heads contain ten or fewer white flowers with a little purple in their upright coronas. Unlike most milkweeds, the five corollas are not reflexed, giving the flowers a star-like appearance.
Like all members of the Asclepias genus, Florida milkweed is a larval host plant for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies. The plant contains a milky latex that is toxic to most animals, but Monarch, Queen and Soldier caterpillars are adapted to feed on them despite the chemical defense.
Family: Apocynaceae (Dogbane family)
Native range: Central to south Florida.
To see where natural populations of Florida milkweed have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 9A–10A
Soil: Well-drained sand
Exposure: Full sun
Growth habit: Up to 2 feet
Florida milkweed is not commercially available. Visit a natural area to see it.