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Asclepias californica Greene

California milkweed

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderGentianalesGentians, coffee, gardenias, frangipani, many others
FamilyAsclepiadaceaeIncludes some herbs, twining shrubs, lianas, leafless stem succulents, rarely trees
GenusAsclepiasFor Asklepios, the Greek god of healing
Speciescalifornica“From California”

About plant names...

This milkweed variety is found mostly in central and southern California, where it is native.

Identification. Plants are up to 3' (91 cm) in size, upright or reclining, with distinctively fuzzy stems and leaves. The leaves have wrinkly edges and a grayish-white fuzzy or woolly appearance. The buds appear pink, opening into deep red/purple flowers about 1" (2.5 cm) across. A yellow-green pentagon-shaped stamen (actually five fused stamens) is in the center of each flower.

Edibility. A Wikipedia article suggests that this milkweed is edible:

This plant was eaten as candy by the Kawaiisu tribes of indigenous California; the milky sap within the leaves is flavorful and chewy when cooked.[1]

However, the sap mentioned above as a sort of candy contains cardiac glycosides in most other milkweed species, and monarch butterfly larvae eat the plants to make themselves poisonous to predators, so eating the sap in any form is potentially dangerous.

Online References:

Asclepias californica at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Asclepias californica on Calflora

Asclepias californica on CalPhotos

Asclepias californica on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Asclepias californica on the Natural History of Orange County, California

Asclepias californica on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

Asclepias californica from the Jepson Manual

1From the Wikipedia article.


Asclepias californica description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Asclepias californica (California milkweed)

5/3/2007 · Death Valley Area · By Rhonda Tatiana Schorer


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