Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a common plant in the Arboretum prairies belonging to the Milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae) that is easily distinguished by its clustered purple flowers and succulent leaves. After blooming, milkweed flowers wither away and large, warty seedpods form. In fall, these pods burst open releasing many wind-dispersed seeds. Common Milkweed contains the chemical cardiac glycoside that is poisonous to animals. However, Monarch caterpillars are able to eat the leaves and absorb the noxious chemicals making them unpalatable for potential predators such as birds. Common Milkweed can be found throughout the Arboretum prairies and typically blooms from mid- to late summer.