Asclepias perennis Walt. - White Milkweed
Family - Asclepiadaceae
Flowering - Late May - August.
Habitat - Low, wet woods, cypress swamps, lake and pond margins, slow streams, wet ditches.
Origin - Native to North America.
Other information - This species can be found mainly in the southern portion of Alabama where swamps are most common. The plant can be identified by its wet habitat, multiple stems, small, white flowers, and elliptic-lanceolate leaves. The lower peduncles of the inflorescence are longer giving the overall inflorescence a flat-topped appearance.
The species epithet perennis derives from the Latin "perenni" meaning "throughout the year" referring to the plant's perennial life cycle.
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 Hwy 65, Craighead County, AR., 6-12-05.