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Whitestem Milkweed
Asclepias albicans

About Whitestem Milkweed (Asclepias albicans) Asclepias albicans is a species of milkweed known by the common names whitestem milkweed and wax milkweed. It is native to the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of California, Arizona, and Baja California. This is a spindly erect shrub growing usually 1 to 3 meters tall, but known to approach four meters. The sticklike branches are mostly naked, the younger ones coated in a waxy residue and a thin layer of woolly hairs. Leaves are ephemeral, growing in whorls of three on the lower branches and falling off after a short time. They are linear in shape and up to 3 centimeters long. The flower cluster is an umbel appearing at the tips of the long branches and sprouting from the sides at nodes. The flower cluster contains many small purple-tinted greenish flowers, each with a central array of bulbous hoods, and corollas reflexed back against the stalk. The plant may flower in any season except summer. The fruit is a large, long, thick follicle which dangles in bunches from the branch nodes.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3.3 - 9.8 ft (1 - 3 m)

Flower Color

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry washes, gravelly slopes


Elevation ?
49' - 3807'

Annual Precip. ?
2.7" - 12.3"

Summer Precip. ?
0.23" - 2.37"

Coldest Month ?
47.0° F - 64.3° F

Hottest Month ?
76.1° F - 88.7° F

Humidity ?
2.85 vpd - 42.66 vpd


Landscaping Information
Common uses
Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Other Names
Common Names
Wax Milkweed

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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