PURPLE MILKWEED Asclepias purpurascens
Asclepias purpurascens, the purple milkweed, is native to the Eastern, Southern and Midwestern United States similar to the range of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The plant gets its namefrom the flowers that first develop a pink color but then turn darker purple as they mature. Unlike common milkweed, purple milkweed prefers some and is considered a plant of partial . It is also considered an indicator of oak savanna, especially in Wisconsin. The species rarely produces seed pods which are smooth instead of the rough warty ones produced by common milkweed.
It is listed endangered in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, as historical to Rhode Island, and as a special concern species in Connecticut and Tennessee.
Like other members of the milkweeds, several insects live off the plant, including the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), the milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetraophtalmus), large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus), small milkweed bug (Lygaeus kalmii) and milkweed leaf beetle (Labidomera clivicollis). Other insects and pollinators feed off the flower's nectar.
This species is sometimes cultivated in gardens designed to attract butterflies, but is less common than the light purple swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) or the orange butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). The nectar of the plant attracts many other species of butterflies and insects as well.
Type: Hardy perennial
Height: 60-90 cm (24-36 in)
Location: Part sun
Hardiness zones: 3-8
Bloom time: Mid summer to fall.
Note: This plant species is known to have toxicity. Ingestion of these seeds or this plant can cause illness such as vomiting or diarrhea.
Germination: As with many perennial seeds, these seeds can benefit from a period of moist cold to help them break dormancy. This is done by giving them a cold 'winter' period (artificial or natural), and then a warming to simulate 'spring', and time to grow! Here's how this can be done:
Obtain a planting container that has holes in the bottom for excess water to drain. Place the seeds just under the surface of your growing medium, and water. Place your container in a cold area (but not freezing, perhaps a refrigerator) for 4-6 weeks. Once the cold period is completed, place the container at room temperature for them to germinate. Be sure to keep the soil moist during this entire germination period. Seedlings will sprout a few weeks, or occasionally several months, after the warming period.
If you are planting your seeds in late winter or spring, these seeds can be planted outdoors while it is still cool out (once the ground is workable and unfrozen), to receive the cold period naturally in the garden.