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Biological Sciences

Asclepias speciosa

Asclepias speciosa, or showy Milkweed, is native to the western half of North America. In California, the perennial plant is found in the Sierras and Coast Ranges. The plant is hairy and grows erect to around 1.2m in height. The large, broad leaves are arranged opposite on the stem. The pinkish-purple flowers are star shaped and are arranged in umbels. In the summer months, when the plant is flowering, you can find a number of butterflies tending the flowers, notably the Monarch butterfly. Like all Milkweeds, a white liquid, called latex, is secreted whenever the plant is damaged. Most predators find the liquid very unpalatable, but some caterpillars are able to sequester the latex and become unpalatable themselves.

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