Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed and Rose Milkweed) is a fetching herbaceous perennial native to much of North America. It is found growing in damp to wet soil, usually in full sun. It grows well in typical garden soil. A monarch favorite.
It is easily grown in medium to wet soils in full sun, and surprisingly tolerant of average well-drained soils in cultivation even though the species is native to swamps and wet meadows. Plants have deep taproots and are best left undisturbed once established. The foliage is slow to emerge in spring.
It typically grows 3-4' tall (less frequently to 5') on branching stems. Small, fragrant, pink to mauve flowers (1/4" wide), each with five reflexed petals and an elevated central crown, appear in tight clusters (umbels) at the stem ends in summer. Flowers are uncommonly white. Narrow, lance-shaped, taper-pointed leaves are 3-6" long. Stems exude a toxic milky sap when cut. Flowers are followed by attractive seed pods (to 4" long) which split open when ripe releasing silky-haired seeds easily carried by the wind. Flowers are very attractive to butterflies as a nectar source. In addition, swamp milkweed is an important food source (albeit somewhat less important than upland species of Asclepias) for the larval stage of Monarch butterflies, which sometimes devour it ravenously.
The generic name honors the Greek god Asklepios, the god of medicine, and incarnate means flesh-colored.