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Desert Milkweed
Asclepias erosa

Photo Citations

Naturedigger would like to thank the following individuals for their contributions to the Desert Milkweed (Asclepias erosa) identification slide:


Flower image provided by: Alex Bairstow, iNaturalist observation (cropped), CC BY-NC 4.0

Flower inset image provided by: Bob McCoy, iNaturalist observation

(cropped), CC BY-NC 4.0

Leaf image provided by: Tony Iwane, iNaturalist observation (cropped), CC BY-NC 4.0

Pod image provided by: Lonny Holmes, iNaturalist observation (cropped), CC BY-NC 4.0

Asclepias erosa Profile

Common Name(s):

desert milkweed

California desert milkweed


Scientific Name:

Asclepias erosa


Native Range:


USDA Symbol:




• deserts

• mountain slopes

• roadsides/disturbed areas

• creosote and sometimes sagebrush communities

• dry washes

• elevation 500-6,230 feet (150-1900 meters)


Growing Conditions:

• full sun

• dry granite, sand or clay soils with low organic content


Plant Height:
• 2-6 feet (0.5-2 meters)


Stem Description:

• green to yellow

• mature plants produce multiple stems with a width of up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) at the base, then narrows at the top

• woolly when young, becoming hairless as plant matures


Leaf Description: 

• elliptic, lanceolate or ovate

• dull color when covered in cream-colored hair

• 4-8 inches (10-20 centimeters) long and 1-4 inches (3-10 centimeters) wide

• distinct white veins

• no petiole; sessile

• bases tapered to cordate

• succulent


Leaf Arrangement:

• opposite


Leaf Margin:

• undulate or jagged (erose)


Leaf Surface:

• smooth to very hairy (woolly) both above and below

• hairs, when present, are cream-colored

• may be glabrous or hairless as plant matures

Flowering Period: 

• April through October

Flower Description:

• horns extend beyond hoods

• hoods sit slightly above the stigmatic disc

• globe-like umbels grow near the top of the stem

• umbels are erect with 20 or more flowers 

• petals are reflexed

• horns sickle-shaped


Flower Color:

petals: pale cream or green

hoods and horns: white or cream to yellow


Pod Description:

• stout and thick

• 2-3 inches long 

• erect on deflexed pendicels

Other Information:

• the leaves are generally jagged, or erose, as in the plant's scientific name Asclepias erose

To Locate and Purchase Seeds (when available):


Xerces Society Milkweed Seed Finder 


Milkweed and Wildflower Vendors


Grow Milkweed Plants


For More Information About This Species Visit:


The Jepson Herbarium




Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


Bring Back Monarchs (if avail)


Xerces Regional Milkweed Guide


USDA Plants Database


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