California Milkweed

Asclepias californica

California Milkweed

Color: Dull to bright shades of lavender or pink.

Common name: California Milkweed

Latin name: Asclepias californica

Family: APOCYNACEAE, formerly included in Asclepiadaceae

Height: 11-12 inches

Description: It has thick, white, woolly stems which bend and run along the ground or angle up from the base with plentiful, hanging flowers.

Leaf: Opposite and egg-shaped.

California Milkweed Blooms

Range: Central and Southern Sierra Nevada Foothills, Central Western California, Southwestern California, Desert

Habitat: Flats, grassy or brushy hillsides

Elevation: 200–2100 m

Flowering time: Apr–Jul

Notes: This plant was eaten as candy by the Kawaiisu tribes of indigenous California; the milky sap within the leaves is flavorful and chewy when cooked. Asclepias californica is an important and specific Monarch butterfly food plant in nectar and vegetation, and cocoon habitat plant. The alkaloids they ingest from the plant are retained in the butterfly, making it unpalatable to predators. It can cause minor dermatitis in humans. Photographed May 30, 2009 with a Canon EOS 30D and 100mm macro lens. Asclepias californica, a dicot, is a perennial herb that is native to California and is found only slightly beyond California borders. Distribution outside California: Northern Baja California.

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Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

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