Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Rush Milkweed, Desert Milkweed
Asclepias subulata

Family: Apocynaceae (a-pos-ih-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Asclepias (ass-KLE-pee-us) (Info)
Species: subulata (sub-yoo-LAH-tuh) (Info)

4 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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to view:

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #1 of Asclepias subulata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #2 of Asclepias subulata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #3 of Asclepias subulata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #4 of Asclepias subulata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #5 of Asclepias subulata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #6 of Asclepias subulata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #7 of Asclepias subulata by Xenomorf

There are a total of 12 photos.
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2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral awapala On May 2, 2014, awapala from Yuma, AZ wrote:

Where can I purchase Desert Milkweed, and how/when would I go about planting it in Yuma, Arizona?

Positive kittysue On Jul 1, 2008, kittysue from Fairborn, OH wrote:

I collected my seed while in Las Vegas. I mixed a pot of 2/3 well composted cow manure (very fine black crumbly), and 1/3 all purpose sand. Easy to germinate "if seed is viable". Must keep seedlings consistently moist -- I've lost three seedlings to thinking it is a desert plant and watering inconsistently.

No stratification of seed needed for this species. It will drop it's leaves during drought and continues to photosynthesis via the branches. I've seen Queen caterpillars hosted on this species outside Pheonix, and I've read it is a host plant for the Monarch.
I am hoping to find a Monarch caterpillar on mine, but since I collect milkweeds, I doubt the few Monarch butterflies we get a year will pass the many milkweed species in the yard.

I keep my plant in a 1 gallon pot and let it sit in the south facing window over winter, no additional light. In the future I will try cutting it back to the soil level to simulate a freeze.

Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix, Arizona) has a group of plants that they irrigate and were flush with leaves. It was very nice, but my photos didn't turn out. I've found with mine if it is regularly watered it will continue to develop leaves but older leaves regularly expire, shrivel up then drop off, though I think this latter part is due to lack of light. It looks totally different (and better) when full with leaves. In the wild I don't think it is found with many leaves, at least none that I've found.

By the way this species does not get 6 feet tall. I realize that DG height field probably has range selections, but it can get 4 feet. (Asclepias albicans) which looks similar does get 6 feet and taller.

Positive Xenomorf On Sep 22, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Monarch butterfly's like it as food.
Needs well drained soil.
It has milky sap.
Starting from seed is easy, but I haven't tried it 'yet'.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Casa Grande, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Yuma, Arizona
Yorba Linda, California

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