Asclepias amplexicaulis Smith - Clasping Milkweed
Family - Asclepiadaceae
Habitat - Sandhills, open woods, clearings, fields, roadsides.
Origin - Native to North America.
Other information - This attractive species can be found scattered throughout Alabama. The plant can be identified by its erect, glabrous stems, pink flowers, and clasping, opposite leaves. The margins of the leaves are also undulate-crispate which is a good character for identification.
The species epithet amplexicaulis derives from the Latin "ample(x)" meaning "to embrace" and "caul(i)" meaning "a stem" referring to the clasping leaves on the plant.
The genus name Asclepias is given in honor of "Aesculapius", who was an inspired physician that became a Roman and Greek demigod of healing and medicine. Aesculapius was so good at healing the sick that it was even believed he could give life to the dead. This rumor worried Hades (the ruler of the dead) and he complained to Zeus. Zeus feared that all men might become immortal and killed Aesculapius with a lightning bolt.
The ancient symbol of Aesculapius is a snake coiled around a wooden staff. This symbol has become the traditional symbol of medicine seen today. In the book of Genesis, Moses held up a serpent on a staff as an example of Christ, to heal the Jews.
Photographs taken at Fort Benning, GA., 5-15-05.