Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands

Take care of our Navajo Rangelands

Milkweed
Ch’ilabe’é

Close-up of Asclepias asperula showing purple hoods and green-white corolla lobes

Milkweed is an important forage plant for Monarch butterflies and bees. Numerous milkweeds grow in the southwest United States. Some are native, and others are introduced. The stems and leaves produce a milky sap when broken. The plants grow to heights of about 1 to 3 feet. Their most distinctive feature is the form of the flowers, which are almost orchidlike. After flowering, the plants form a pod filled with white fibers and brown seeds.

Species found in Navajo rangelands include antelopehorn (Asclepias asperula) and broadleaf milkweed (Asclepias latifolia).

Asclepias asperula plant with upright foliage and round flower clusters
Bulbous seedpods and foliage of Asclepias asperula
Close-up of Asclepias asperula showing purple hoods and green-white corolla lobes
Flowers and broad, light green foliage of Asclepias latifolia
Close-up of the flowers of Asclepias latifolia, which are primarily a creamy white
Upright growth habit and broad foliage of Asclepias latifolia
Small white flowers in the foreground; undersides of veined leaves in the background.
Large pointed pods growing from glossy light green foliage.
Single, glossy green leaf with prominent veins.
Large pointed pod detached from plant, with woody stem.
Interior of pod, showing a glossy, tightly wrapped elongated disk.
Close-up of the scales of the structure in the interior of the pod.

Copyright 2018 New Mexico State University. Individual photographers retain all rights to their images. Partially funded by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (westernsare.org; 435.797.2257), project EW15-023. Programs and projects supported by Western SARE are equally open to all people. NMSU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action educator and employer.