Asclepias cinerea

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Asclepias cinerea
Asclepias cinerea Gil.jpg
photo by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Order: Gentianales
Family: Asclepiadaceae
Genus: Asclepias
Species: A. cinerea
Binomial name
Asclepias cinerea
ASCL CINE dist.jpg
Natural range of Asclepias cinerea from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Carolina milkweed

Taxonomic notes

Asclepias is named for Asklepio, the Greek god of medicine and healing.[1]

Synonyms: none[2]

Varieties: none[2]


In general, with the Asclepias genus, they are perennial herbs usually milky sap. The stems are erect, spreading or decumbent and usually are simple and often solitary. The leaves are opposite to subopposite, are sometimes whorled, and rarely alternate. The corolla lobes are reflexed and are rarely erect or spreading. The filaments are elaborate into five hood forming a corona around the gynosteguim. The corona horns are present in most species.[3]

Specifically, for Asclepias cinera, the stems are simple, slender and solitary; they grow up to 3-7 dm tall; and are puberulent in the lines below the nodes. The leaves are opposite, liner and 5-9 cm long to 1-2 mm wide, and are glabrous. The umbels are 1-4 terminal or axillary from upper nodes, 2-3.5 cm broad, and are usually less than 8-flowered. The corolla is lavender in color, the lobes are 5-7 mm long, the corona is 4-5 mm in diameter’ the lateral hood margins are conspicuous with the acuminate tooth extending beyond the truncate hood apex. The horn is about the same size, equaling the body of the hood. The follicles are smooth, 10-12 cm long, 5-10 mm broad, are erect on the erect pedicels. Flowers from June to July.[3]


This species is found in southeast North Carolina, and south to Florida[2]. In Florida, it is restricted to the panhandle and northern counties.[4] Listed as critically imperiled in Alabama.[5]



Asclepias cinerea is found in pine savannas[2] and sandhills,[6][7] flatwoods, and bogs.[6] Specifically, it appears in longleaf pine-turkey oak woods, pine-palmetto woods, wiregrass savannas, scrub oak barrens, scrub at the edge of slash pine flatwoods, seepage slopes, and boggy savannas. It can also be found in disturbed areas, including sandy clearings along power line corridors, ditches, and disturbed flatwoods. This species occurs in a range of light levels, from shady to full sun, and in a variety of sandy soil types, including wet or dry loamy sand, boggy or gravelly soils, moist sand, sandy peat, and Penney (Typic Quartzipsamments) and Ridgewood (Aquic Quartzipsamments) soils.[8]

Associated species include Baptisia simplicifolia, Callisia, Chrysopsis, Crotalaria rotundifolia, Sisyrinchium, Stipullicida, Euphorbia telephioides, Cyperus filiculmis, Sophronanthe hispida, Tragia urens, Pinus palustris, Quercus laevis, and Aristida stricta.[8]


This species flowers from spring to summer.[6] Specifically, in Florida, flowering has been observed from May to September and fruiting has been observed from June through August.[8][9]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by wind. [10]

Fire ecology

This species tolerates fire and has been found in recently burned longleaf pine[8] and Florida sandhill[7] communities, but the exact role fire plays in its life cycle is unknown.[8]


Pollination of Asclepias is unusual. Pollen is contained in sacs (pollinia) located in the slits of the flower (stigmatic slits), when a pollinator walks across the flower head, these sacs attach to the pollinator and disperses on to another plant when the pollinator lands and walks.[1] There is no specialist insect pollinator.[11] In Jackson County, FL, a spider was observed pollinating A. cinerea.[12]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 [[1]]Florida Native Plant Society. Accessed: March 30, 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 848-854. Print.
  4. [[2]]Native Florida Wildflowers. Accessed: March 30, 2016
  5. [[3]]NatureServe. Accessed: March 30, 2016
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Wunderlin, Richard P. and Bruce F. Hansen. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida. Third edition. 2011. University Press of Florida: Gainesville/Tallahassee/Tampa/Boca Raton/Pensacola/Orlando/Miami/Jacksonville/Ft. Myers. 270. Print.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Observation by Patrick R. Leary and identification by Edwin Bridged in Ralph Simmons State Forest, FL, August 6 2016, posted to Florida Flora and Ecosystematics Facebook Group August 6, 2017.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: L. C. Anderson, J. R. Burkhalter, A. F. Clewell, D. L. Fichtner, A. Gholson, R. K. Godfrey, R. Kral, R. Komarek, S. W. Leonard, M. Mayo, S. McDaniel J. B. Nelson, S. L. Orzell, P. L. Redfearn, W. D. Reese, A. Schmidt, C. R. Slaughter, and Jr. R. Wilson. States and Counties: Florida: Bay, Clay, Duval, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Okaloosa, St. Johns, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington. Georgia: Thomas.
  9. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 7 DEC 2016
  10. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  11. [[4]]Xerces Society. Accessed: March 30, 2016
  12. Observation by Floyd Griffith in Jackson County, FL, June 24, 2016, posted to Florida Flora and Ecosystematics Facebook Group June 24, 2016.