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White-stemmed Milkweed

Asclepias albicans

Asclepias albicans photo © by Michael Plagens

White-stemmed Milkweed, Asclepias albicans, observed in the Muggins Mountain Wilderness, Yuma, County, Arizona, USA on 31 January 2010.

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flower buds on White-stemmed Milkweed

SUCCULENT: Similar to Desert Milkweed (Asclepias subulata) but with smooth wand-like stems much taller and thicker in diameter. Leafless stems are blue-green in color and rise sometimes well past 2 meters. The lower portions of the stems are woody.
stem detail of a plant from the Palo Verde Mts., California, Asclepias albicans photo © by Michael Plagens
RANGE: Generally restricted to far southwestern Arizona where hard freezing temperatures are rare. Western Maricopa and Yuma Counties. Also found in Southern California, Sonora and Baja California, Mexico.

LEAVES: A few linear leaves may be seen at growing tip of stems, but are soon deciduous leaving the plant essentially leafless.

STEMS: When injured the stems exude copious milky latex. The cortex of the stems conducts required photosynthesis.

FRUIT: Pods with wrinkled-looking valves. The seeds are comose for wind dispersal.  Dried pod valves hang onto the stems for many months after the seeds have dispersed.

FLOWERS: Five-poined, star-shaped, green or white, borne in umbels of 8 to 15 flowers at the terminus of the stems. The flowers are slightly smaller than those of Asclepias subulata


Asclepiaceae -- Milkweed Family

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 5 February 2010,
updated 21 February 2013.