Common milkweed

Asclepias syriaca


Photo credit: ©Nikolay Kurzenko
Asclepias syriaca - Common milkweed
  • The common milkweed is a large herb native to North America that gets its name from the thick white latex that emerges when parts of the plant are broken. The species was cultivated in Europe for its fibres in the late 19th century.

Origin and Worldwide Distribution:
  • It is native to North America. Today, it is traded and cultivated as an ornamental and for beekeeping.  It is currently established in 13 Member States: Austria, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Potential or Known Impacts:
  • It poses a high risk to native biodiversity by overwhelming valuable habitats such as grasslands, dune areas and river valleys. Milkweed is also toxic to humans and herbivores.

How could it get here?
  • It was imported and cultivated in Europe for its fibres in the late 19th century.

Is it found in Northern Ireland?
  • It is not present in Northern Ireland.

  Methods for Prevention:
  • Placing the species on the Union list will contain its further spread across the EU, by imposing a cultivation and sales ban, by possibly taking measures on the pathways of unintentional introduction and spread, as well as by taking measures for the rapid eradication of any newly emerging populations and for the management of established populations.
  • Report all sightings.
  • EU (EPPO) Risk Assessment

You can help by reporting any sightings: @ the Centre for Environmental Data & Recording (CEDaR) - Or via the iRecord App.
Current Legislative Position (Listed on 02 August 2017):
  • This species must not intentionally be brought into the Union; kept; bred; transported to, from or within the United Kingdom, unless for the transportation to facilities in the context of eradication; placed on the market; used or exchanged; permitted to reproduce, grown or cultivated; or released into the environment.
For further queries, you can contact the Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) Team in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 028 9056 9558 or Email:  
Invasive Species Northern Ireland

Invasive Species Northern Ireland