AZ Arboretums

Asclepias subulata

Desert milkweed

Common: Desert milkweed
Family: Asclepiadaceae
Origin: Southern Nevada, western Arizona and southeastern California, and in Baja California, Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico
Light: Full sun
Soil: Prefers good drainage
Water: Can tolerate long periods of drought.

Grows in sandy washes and less frequently on desert plains or rocky hillsides. Slender gray green stems grow vertically to four feet from woody base, spread 2 ft. or more. Creates vertical accent. Use in courtyard or near pool. Lends authentic note to desert wash plantings. Attracts butterflies.

Leaves 2 inches long by 1/8 inch wide appear on new growth but soon drop. White milky sap oozes from cut stems and contains rubber. Spring through fall, flat-topped clusters of pale yellow flowers top each stem. Ornamental pod is horn-shaped and 3 inches long.

Excessive watering encourages succulent growth which attracts aphids. Pests are seasonal and don't seriously stunt plants.