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Common milkweed

Asclepias syriaca

Invasive Alien Species of Union concern

Foto: arhiv Zavoda Symbiosis
Foto: arhiv Zavoda Symbiosis
Foto: arhiv Zavoda Symbiosis

NATIVE RANGE: North America

PATHWAYS: horticulture



DESCRIPTION: To 2 m tall perennial with underground rhizomes and numerous upright stems. Leaves are opposite, undivided, up to 20 cm long and 4-8 cm wide, downy white below. The scented, flowers are placed in umbellate cymes at the top of the stem and/or at leaf bases. Petals are brownish red and turn backwards and have erect, pink nectaria. Fruits are up to 10 cm long and 3 cm wide, spiny and slightly bent (so called “parrots”). The plant contains milk sap. 

HABITAT: sunny to half-shadowy sites: meadows, forest edges, light forests, riverine habitats, roadsides, degraded land. 

STATUS IN SLOVENIA: For the moment mainly single plants and smaller stands, especially in central and eastern Slovenia.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Somewhat similar is Wolfs’ cherry, Atropa belladona, which has up to 1.5 m tall stems with large, egg-shaped leaves, but single, dark red flowers. Fruits are shining black berries (highly toxic).  

SOURCE: Field Guide to Invasive Alien Species in European Forests

NOTE: this species is included in the list of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern (the Union list) of Regulation (EU) 1143/2014. The species included on the Union list are subject to restrictions and measures set out in the Regulation. These include restrictions on keeping, importing, selling, breeding and growing. Member States are required to take action on pathways of unintentional introduction, to take measures for the early detection and rapid eradication of these species, and to manage species that are already widely spread in their territory.

Prepared by: Darja Erjavec, Zavod RS za varstvo narave

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