Desert Milkweed (Asclepias subulata)

(Fig. 01)

Picture Notes: These pictures were taken along the Rainbow Vista and Canyon Overlook Trails at Valley of Fire State Park. I found it near the bottom (Fig. 03) of the steep, winding trail that ran down the back side (Fig. 02) of the 100 foot high sandstone outcrop that was the highest point of the Rainbow Vista Trail.

(Fig. 02)
Description:  The Desert Milkweed, a.k.a Rush Milkweed or ajamete, is native to southeastern California, southwestern Arizona, southern Nevada, and northern Mexico. This erect perennial herb loses its leaves early in the season and stands as a cluster of naked stalks. It prefers full, reflected heat. Its soil preference is well drained, dry sandy, rocky areas to about 2,500 feet. With a width of 3-6 feet and a height of 3-6 feet, its slender gray-green stems are generally leafless and requires very little water (Fig. 02). Its cream-white flower has a re-flexed corolla that reveals the inner parts, a network of five shiny columns, each topped with a tiny hook. The fruit is a pouch-like follicle that contains many flat, oval seeds with long, silky hairlike plumes (Fig. 01). Its fruit season is generally April to October. Its milky sap is an important food source for the monarch butterfly. When ripe it has large seed pods that hang down.
(Fig. 03)
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