Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Fewflower Milkweed - Asclepias lanceolata   Walter
Members of Apocynaceae:
Members of Asclepias with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Gentianales » Family Apocynaceae
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DistributionThis species is limited to the Coastal Plain, but it occurs throughout the lower portions, ranging inward only to Gates, Beaufort, and Robeson counties, with a disjunct record from Johnston County.

This is a Coastal Plain species, though not restricted just to the Southern Coastal Plain. It ranges north to NJ, and south to southern FL, and eastern TX.
AbundanceFairly common over the lower Coastal Plain, at least in counties bordering the Atlantic. Farther inland, rare to locally uncommon, such as in Robeson and Johnston counties.
HabitatThis species has two somewhat distinct habitats in NC. It grows in fresh-tidal to brackish marshes, but it also grows in savannas, ditches, and pocosin borders (in more acidic soils). It normally does not grow in the centers of savannas, but in the wetter places, generally at the margins along an ecotone with a swamp or pocosin.
PhenologyBlooms from June to August, and fruits in August and September. Strikingly beautiful despite its narrow habit and small cluster of flowers.
IdentificationThis is a tall milkweed, growing to 3-4 feet feet tall, occasionally taller, with no branches. It has extremely long and very slender leaves, but these are very few (only 3-6 pairs) on such a tall stem. They are opposite, narrowly lanceolate, each close to 6 inches long but barely 2/5-inch wide, tapering to a long tip. There are only a few flower clusters (umbels), from the tip of the stem and one or two upper leaf axils, and each umbel has relatively few flowers in a somewhat flattened cluster shape, only about 2 inches across. Thankfully, each flower is intense orange to scarlet, a deeper flower color than the standard orange (or yellow) seen in the common Butterfly Milkweed (A. tuberosa). Thus, even though this is a quite slender, "lanky" species with few leaves and relatively few flowers, the cluster when in bloom cannot fail to be noticed. Needless to say, a cluster of deep orange flowers 3-4 feet off the ground in a marsh or savanna cannot be overlooked, nor mistaken for anything else.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Lanceleaf Milkweed
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieMarshy roadside ditch, Mashoes Road N of Manns Harbor. 14 June 2012. DarePhoto_natural
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