Thursday, February 25, 2010

Largeflower Milkweed - Asclepias connivens

I love this milkweed despite its rather small stature and simple greenish flowers.  Largeflower milkweed (Asclepias connivens) occurs throughout Florida and much of the Southeastern Coastal Plain in open wet flatwoods and savannahs.  It seems to require these open and seasonally wet conditions to thrive and its populations are always widely scattered and localized. 
Like other members of this genus in Florida, largeflower milkweed is deciduous and dies back to the ground each winter.  When it emerges the next spring, it is difficult to notice amongst the surrounding vegetation.  The stem is rather stout, but often leans; making it shorter in stature than its actual length of 2-2.5 feet.  Along the stalk are short linear leaves, opposite each other.
Flowering occurs in the summer.  As its common name implies, largeflower milkweed produces large flower buds.  Individual blooms are almost 1 inch across, rather rounded in appearance, and light green in color.  Only a few flowers occur in any one head and only a few heads occur - near the end of the main stem.
Largeflower milkweed is unusual in appearance, but may not be "attractive" enough to ever warrant its commercial production.  I know of no one who has ever offered this species for sale and I have never been fortunate enough to stumble upon one with ripe seed to try it myself.  I suspect it is a difficult species in cultivation because in nature it is always extremely localized.  If you are fortunate enough to try it yourself, plant it in open sunny areas where the soils are moist to nearly wet during the summer rainy season, collect some seed, and drop me an e-mail...

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