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Question and Answer

How can I tell if a plant is milkweed or dogbane?

Another plant, dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum), looks strikingly similar to common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). This look-alike can leave people disappointed if they're expecting monarchs on their milkweed, but it turns out not to be the right plant! Here's a few ways they're similar, and how to tell them apart.

Similarities: Both plants have milky sap if you break off a leaf, and their growth pattern is very similar. Both have opposite and oval shaped leaves.

Differences: Common milkweed has a hairy stem, unlike dogbane. When mature, the dogbane stem branches in the upper portion of the plant. The flowers also look quite different. Common milkweed flowers are pinkish, large and ball shaped, whereas dogbane flowers are whitish green and in small clusters.

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