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Plant of the Month

 
 
Asclepias fascicularis
May, 2017
 
Narrowleaf Milkweed
 

Narrowleaf Milkweed has narrow leaves, hence the name, and a wide native range, including San Diego county.  It is the host plant for the Monarch butterfly and therefore essential to a healthy Monarch butterfly population. It is a perennial with 3' tall stem and large (but narrow) five inch leaves, and a five inch or so flower cluster. It tends to go dormant in the winter and regenerate the next year. It is a ‘must-have’ for butterfly gardens. The alkaloids associated with this plant give the butterfly larvae that feed on it protection, but if the butterfly has not evolved with the milkweed they have no tolerance for the particular alkaloid of the species.It is also host to a range of other butterfly species. In our area, this plant is covered with monarch caterpillars during the summer, and Tarantula Hawk Wasps also flock to it. Asclepias fascicularis can tolerate coastal clays.