New Mexico Wildflowers: Dogbane Family

(Apocynaceae)

 

Plants are organized alphabetically by genus and species. Hover over a photo series to control the images.


Dogbane (Apocynum)

Dogbane flowers are pink or white, depending on the species, and occur in clusters at the top of the plant. In my experience they don't all open at once. In any case, you won't see the flowers during most of the growing season. Instead, look for the maroon twigs and long, pointed, smooth-edged leaves. You may see Dogbane Leaf Beetles munching away on those leaves; you can see the beetles on this page. In the fall look for pairs of long, skinny seed capsules. Before New Mexico's Native Americans had cotton, they used fibers from dogbane stems for weaving their finest textiles.

 

Broadleaf Milkweed (Asclepias latifolia)

In New Mexico's high desert, Broadleaf Milkweed plants stick out like a sore thumb. The flowers can turn yellowish as they age.

 

Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

In one picture the ball of pink flowers is less crowded, making it easier to see the folded-back "skirt" typical of milkweed. 

 

Horsetail Milkweed, Yerba lechosa (Asclepias subverticillata)

This is a very common Albuquerque "weed." Look for skinny, upward-pointing leaves and clusters of small white flowers. Each of the flowers has a "skirt." In two photos the leaves are curled downward, but that's because the plant was wilting. Also, my photo of the fruit includes Oleander Aphids. You can see more of them on a separate page.

 

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

To identify this one, look for a cluster of distinct orange flowers (or egg-yolk-yellow flowers, if you prefer), each of which has a downward-turned "skirt." The clusters occur on top of a symmetrical plant (which can occur in bunches). I included one photo where the the flowers have wilted because it shows the the stalk and leaves.

 

Climbing Milkweed (Funastrum cynanchoides)

This vine insinuates itself among other plants. I found it at the mouth of Embudito Canyon, at the edge of Albuquerque. Be warned that the SEINET plant list for Bernalillo doesn't include Funastrum.