Desert Milkweed (Rush Milkweed)

Asclepias subulata

One of the few evergreen milkweeds native to the Southwest, the desert milkweed is often leafless when the soil is dry. Creamy yellow flowers are loved by Tarantula Hawk wasps and Queen and Monarch butterflies.

Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Status: Native
Origin: Sandy washes in the arid regions of the southern intermountain west at lower elevations below 3000 feet including the upper reaches of the Sonoran Desert, eastern California, southern Nevada and into Baja California
Family: Asclepiadaceae
Size: 2′ – 5′ high and wide
Sun: Full (shade tolerant under desert conditions)
Watering: Drought tolerant but benefits from supplemental watering
Growth Rate: Moderate
Soil: Prefers sandy well-drained soil but tolerates a wide variety of soil types
Temperature: Cold tolerant to 18 degrees F
Pruning: Head back severely to rejuvenate every 3 to 5 years
Disease and Pests: None (oleander aphids don’t seem to cause significant damage)
Uses: Nectar plant for a wide variety of insects. Host for Queen and Monarch butterflies. Special value to native bees.
Notes: Stems produce latex that may cause dermatitis upon contact. Often leafless when conditions are dry. All plants in the genus Asclepias are probably somewhat toxic, some fatally so, to both humans and animals.


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