Monday, December 1, 2008

Asclepias phsyocarpa

The seed pod below should look a bit familiar, if you read my previous post about Asclepias syriacus.

These pods are from another milkweed, Asclepias phsyocarpa, more commonly referred to as balloonplant or swan plant. These photos were taken the Sunday before Thanksgiving and, as you can see, the plant was still blooming, despite below-freezing temps.

I can't dig up any information as to why the plant is called swan plant, but Asclepias is derivative of the Greek god of healing, Asklepios. Phusa or physa is Greek for bladder, which refers to the shape of the seed pod, while karpos is Greek for fruit.


Anonymous said...

braenz said...


I can answer your question as to why the swan plant is so named - but believe it or not, this is NOT a swan plant!

The swan plant has seed pods which are smaller than yours, and are shaped like the body of a swan, with a little upturned tail, and a stem which is S shaped like the neck of a swan. The botanical name of this plant is now Gomphocarpus fruticosus (was Asclepias fruticosa but changed some years ago).

G. physocarpus is a larger plant and is the one in your photograph. Like the swan plant is was reclassified by the botanists at Kew Gardens (Britain) because these two species, while milkweeds, come from a collection of African plants, whereas Asclepias are from America.

In England they call the plant you have Bishop's Balls.

And there you have it!

Jacqui Knight