Asclepias humistrata Walt. - Creeping Milkweed
Family - Asclepiadaceae
Flowering - May - June.
Habitat - Sandhills, sandy pine-oak woods, scrub.
Origin - Native to North America.
Other information - This striking species is found primarily in the southern half of Alabama in counties which contain sandhill habitat. The plant is easy to identify becasue of its habitat, reclining stems, clasping leaves, and whitish flowers. This species bleeds copious amounts of white sap if injured.
The species epithet humistrata derives from the Latin "humi" meaning "ground, earth" and "strat" meaning "a covering, layer" referring to the plants growing habit.
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 off Lee Rd. 10, Lee County, AL., 5-28-05.