What is Swamp Milkweed?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), is named for the Greek god of medicine, Asklepios. Incarnata, is from the Latin carn, meaning flesh and atus, like, because its hue is sometimes like flesh or dusty rose in color. As a tall herbaceous moisture-loving perennial, Swamp milkweed seeks sunny openings of swamps, marshes, bogs, fens, and open areas along stream banks and ditches.

Is Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) a wetland plant?

In nature, the answer is clearly yes. In fact, throughout most of its range, swamp milkweed is a noted wetland obligate (i.e., needs wet feet to persist and flourish). The only exception is where it persists in the Great Plains, where it is noted as “facultative-wetland”.

That said, we’ve noticed the nursery stock swamp milkweed to act much more facultative and even flourish in true upland environments. What gives? We hypothesize that selective breeding plays a role. Plants that survive best in a nursery setting pass down their genes whereas the sensitive plants don’t flourish or get sold. Human selection pressure on an extremely short time scale?


At Spadefoot, we couldn’t be happier about this, though. It gives us another beautiful and fun plant to work with in deer 🦌 heavy projects—most of Long Island in other words.

Have you noticed other nursery grown wetland plants acting like upland plants in your yard or community?