#Biodiversity150 number 85 of 150 Common Milkweed

85/150: Common Milkweed is bitter and milky, perfect for the Monarch Butterfly

Plantae: Spermatophyta: Angiospermae: Dicotyledonae: Gentianales: Asclepiadaceae: Asclepias: Asclepias syriaca (Blanco, 1837)

Asclepias syriaca or Common Milkweed is native to eastern North America and receives its name from the milky sap excreted from the stem and leaves when damaged. This full sun, drought tolerant plant blooms in early to mid-summer attracting a variety of insects including bumblebees, monarch butterflies and hummingbird moths. In the fall, the milkweed’s seed pods split open and release their seeds to be dispersed by the wind. This plant is prone to aphid pests and commonly occurs in fields, open woods, waste areas, roadsides and along railroad tracks. Milkweed species are important host plants for the monarch butterfly as it is the only plant the caterpillar will eat. Milkweed contains an alkaloid which makes the caterpillars bitter to eat. Predators of the monarch butterfly learn to recognize their bright patterning, remembering not to consume them due to their bitter taste. There are 18 Common Milkweeds with barcodes on BOLD. #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

Burst Milkweed pod, releasing seeds. Photo Credit: Brocken Inaglory goo.gl/EhmGTn
Flowering Common Milkweed. Photo Credit: Fritz Flohr Reynolds goo.gl/kyanbo
Monarch butterfly caterpillar eating a milkweed plant. Photo Credit: Martin LaBar goo.gl/d4DKnz

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: KSR133-07

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Common Milkweed

Title Image: Specimen KSR133-07 – Jokers Hill West, King Twp., Regional Municipality of York, Ontario – 04-July-2006
Photo Credit: University of Guelph, OAC Herbarium

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