Asclepias lanceolata Walt. - Lance-leaved Milkweed, Few-flowered Milkweed
Family - Asclepiadaceae
Flowering - May - August.
Habitat - Wet flatwoods, floodplain forests, savannahs, swamps, brackish marshes.
Origin - Native to North America.
Other information - This tall milkweed species has been reported from just a handful of scattered Alabama counties. The plant is easy to identify becasue of its thin, opposite leaves, tall size (+1m), simple stems, and bright orange-red flowers.
The species epithet lanceolata derives from the Latin "lance" meaning "a lance" referring to the shape of the leaves.
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 in coastal NC., 7-17-02./FONT>