Fewflower milkweed

Pictured above: Fewflower milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata) by Emily Bell. Click on terms for botanical definitions. View post as a PDF.

Fewflower milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata) is a delicate perennial wildflower found in swamps and moist to wet pinelands and prairies throughout Florida. Its stunning orange to red flowers typically bloom late spring through fall. Like all members of the Asclepias genus, Fewflower 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. The flowers are an important nectar source for bees and wasps.

Flowers are born in terminal umbels. Each flower bears a five-lobed calyx and five-lobed corolla. Corolla lobes are reflexed. Often mistaken for petals are five hoods (or petaloid appendages) that form an upright corona — a characteristic typical of milkweed flowers. Leaves are long (4–8 inches), linear to lanceolate, with short petioles. They are oppositely arranged. Stems are slender and smooth. Seeds are born in erect follicles that dry and split open as the fruit matures. Each seed is attached to a white silky pappus that catches the wind and aids in dispersal.

Fewflower milkweed, Asclepias lanceolata
Photo by Eleanor Dietrich

The genus Asclepias is named for Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. The species epithet lanceolata refers to the lanceolate or lance-shaped leaves.

Family: Apocynaceae (Dogbane family)
Native range: Nearly throughout
To see where natural populations of Fewflower milkweed have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Lifespan: Perennial
Soil: Moist to wet sandy or calcareous soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 2–3’+ tall

Fewflower milkweed is not generally commercially available. Visit a natural area to see it.

Learn more about Fewflower milkweed from the Florida Native Plant Society and the Institute for Regional Conservation.

For more information on other Asclepias species, see these resources:

Clasping milkweed

Clasping milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) is a late spring- through summer- blooming milkweed that occurs in dry sandy areas from sandhills to pine savannahs, open woodlands and fallow fields.
Read more… Clasping milkweed

Florida milkweed

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.
Read more… Florida milkweed

Swamp milkweed

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias perennis) blooms in late spring through early fall and attracts many pollinators. It is a larval host plant for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies.
Read more… Swamp milkweed
Hummingbird clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) on Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata

Swamp milkweed

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) has showy pink flowers that typically bloom in summer and attracts many pollinators. It is a larval host for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies.
Read more… Swamp milkweed
Savannah milkweed's greenish-yellow, urn-shaped flowers

Savannah milkweed

With its diminutive stature and greenish-yellow flowers, Savannah milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata) is oft overlooked in its native pineland and prairie habitats. It blooms late spring through fall, peaking in summer. Its flowers are attractive to bees, wasps and butterflies. Like all members of the Asclepias genus, Savannah 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.
Read more… Savannah milkweed
Green antelopehorn, Asclepias viridis

Green antelopehorn

Green antelopehorn (Asclepias viridis) is an herbaceous perennial wildflower found in pinelands, pine rocklands and disturbed areas in a few Florida counties. It flowers winter through summer, with peak blooms in spring. Like many members of the milkweed family, Green antelopehorn is a larval host plant for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies. Their caterpillars have adapted to feed on the plant, which contains a milky latex that is toxic to most animals. The flowers are also an important nectar source for bees and wasps.
Read more… Green antelopehorn
Insect on Whorled milkweed flowers

Whorled milkweed

Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) is one of the smaller, more delicate native milkweeds and is easily overlooked when not in bloom. It flowers late spring through late summer/early fall.
Read more… Whorled milkweed

Butterfly milkweed

Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a perennial that produces large, showy clusters of bright orange to reddish flowers from spring through fall. It occurs naturally in sandhills, pine flatwoods, and other sandy uplands as well as along sunny roadsides. It is an exception to the Asclepias genus in that its stem does not contain the milky latex that distinguishes the rest of the genus and gives it the common name “milkweed.”
Read more… Butterfly milkweed