Friday, July 16, 2010

All in the Family: Asclepiads

Actually, that should be "All in the Sub-family: Asclepiadoideae." The old family name, Asclepiadaceae, is supposedly obsolete. These plants are now included in the family Apocynaceae, which contains so many different plants that the point I'm trying to make would be lost.

The point? Yes, I was actually going to make one before I got sidetracked into taxonomy. Recently, I was struck by just how much the bloom and bloom habit of the common milkweed, (Asclepias syriaca) resemble those of my Hoya Carnosa.

Pictures of Asclepias syriaca taken, in a park in Skokie, IL. This native plant pops up as a volunteer "weed" in my garden. I let a few of them grow, to encourage Monarch butterflies, but it never blooms for me.

A flower from my Hoya carnosa 'Krimson Queen'

Though I'm not a Hoya collector, (no, really, just because I have nine of them doesn't make me a collector, honest) I'd always wanted a Hoya multiflora because the blooms were so different.

Two views of my Hoya multiflora, sometimes called the Shooting Star Hoya

But then, on a visit to the Chicago Botanic Gardens, I realized that the blooms are similar to those of Asclepias curassavica, and not dissimilar to those of Asclepias tuberosa and Asclepias incarnata.

Asclepias curassavica at the CBG. A. curassavica and its varieties are only hardy to zone 8b, but are sometimes grown as "annuals" around here. I keep meaning to try some, since I think they are lovely.

Asclepias curassavica 'Silky Gold' and some little visitors.

Asclepias tuberosa, or butterfly weed. This is my second favorite of the flowers that I grow in my garden. This is the oldest of five I have planted, and I have three more in pots waiting for me to decide where to put them. This too is a native plant that grows wild in the area, as well as being cultivated as a garden plant.

Another view showing the shape of the flowers better

Asclepias incarnata, or Swamp milkweed, another native plant. These pictures are from the CBG. I just planted a pair of these plants in my garden, but they are unlikely to bloom there this year.

Okay, so maybe there really wasn't much of a point after all. I just wanted to share some pictures of what is fast becoming one of my favorite plant (sub)families, indoors and out. When my small Stapelia hirsuta and Huernia zebrina (also members of Asclepiadoideae) become mature enough to bloom, I'm sure I'll have yet another perspective on this group.


Mandy said...

What pretty blooms! I especially like the purple milkweed! I wish my Hoya would bloom, I have a little Hindu Rope, but nothing so far.

Julie said...

i want a god sized hoya that will bloom!! gosh darn it! never noticed how similar these blooms are in that sort of umbrel way of blooming,,,it will force to to look clser at milkweed now!

Candy "Sweetstuff" said...

I love hoya's but as a succulent fan I don't even have one! Crazy huh. Yours is beautiful and love the pics!

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