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Asclepias syriaca – Wikipedia

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**Description of Asclepias syriaca**:
– A. syriaca is a clonal perennial forb growing up to 1.8m tall.
– Plants produce white latex when cut, and leaves are opposite, ovate-lanceolate, with velvety undersides.
– Flowers are fragrant, vary in color, and occur in umbellate cymes.
– Seeds have long, white flossy hairs and occur in large follicles.

**Ecology and Conservation**:
– Over 450 insect species feed on A. syriaca, with monarch butterfly caterpillars heavily relying on the plant.
– Various insects visit and pollinate the flowers.
– Monarch populations decline due to herbicide-induced milkweed loss.
– Efforts like Monarch Watch provide guidance on rearing monarchs using A. syriaca.

**Cultivation and Propagation**:
– A. syriaca can spread aggressively from rhizomes and is winter hardy in USDA zones 3–9.
– Easily propagated by seed and rhizome cuttings, seeds requiring cold treatment for germination.
– Pruning tips include cutting plants for softer foliage, timing pruning to attract Monarchs, and protecting caterpillars during pruning.

**Uses and Toxicity**:
– The plant’s latex contains cardiac glycosides, making it toxic to humans and animals.
– Parts of the plant are edible raw and have been explored for rubber and fiber production.
– Traditionally used to treat respiratory infections like pleurisy, and the fluffy seed hairs have been used for mounted insects.

**Research and Resources**:
– The genome of A. syriaca has been sequenced, and genomic analysis has been conducted on the species.
– Various resources provide information on milkweed propagation and seed production.
– Milkweed has been used for unique products like a winter coat, and native milkweed species attract Monarch caterpillars, promoting wildlife and pollinator habitat.

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