Experience | Opinion | Impression
I have been fascinated by this milkweed since I have learned of its existence. I'm not sure what I find interesting about it. I have been to Florida to see it in its natural habitat. I have spoken with three native plant growers that have essentially given up on trying to grow it.
In its native habitat of pine woods, hardwood growth always threatens to shade it out, which is why fire is required in these locations for maintaining these populations. It sometimes occurs in yards that are mowed, and if not cut back by the land owners the specimens can reach their maximum size due to the lack of competition. I wish I had stopped and taken photos of those plants in peoples yards that had mowed around them.
North Carolina Botanical Garden at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a specimen in their "Coastal Plain and Sandhills Habitat Gardens" display, which had a lot of sand trucked in to create the habitat. We visited in 2009 and 2010, and both times saw the specimen in mature form, though nothing like the size in a few yards in Florida, but still bigger than the plants I saw in the state parks in Florida.
These top three photos are of the same plant and were taken at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, which is at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is growing in the "Coastal Plain and Sandhills Habitat Gardens". The far left photo was taken on one visit, and the other two were taken on another visit to the garden.
These next five photos are of two specimens at the same location. Many of times, and in this case, I went hiking at a state park, and found these milkweeds growing outside the boundary of the park. These happened to be growing in a power line right of way.
This plant did well. The power line right of way was obviously maintained by mowing, but the milkweed plants were all at different stages of growth. One looked like it had set seed early and released its seed a week or two before I visited. This one was likely to successfully release its seed.
This plant looked as though it was recovering from being crushed by a hoofed animal. Possibly some of the cows from the neighboring ranch, or deer from the park. The third photo, I got a closeup of the stems emerging from the ground. The two photos to the left show one its stems that were just beginning to develop seed pods. There were tire tracks that I initially assumed were from a mower, but discovered later that the power line right of way was not fenced off until recently, and may have been tracks made by the fence installers. Possibly the neighboring rancher is allowed to let their herd on the land to graze.
USDA PLANTS Profile
Hawthorn Hill Native Wildflower and Rare Plant Nursery
Gardening in Central Florida (blog)
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center
Wildflowers of the Escambia
Florida Native Plant Society, plant profile