Can you identify this plant?

Asked May 7, 2018, 9:18 PM EDT

Please help me identify this plant. It is currently about a foot tall, has opposite leaves, and the stalk is about the circumference of asparagus. When it started growing near my asparagus in the vegetable garden, that's what I thought it was until the leaves started popping out. I'm afraid it's an invasive, but before I pull it out, I want to find out what it is. Thank you.

Frederick County Maryland

1 Response

This is milkweed, the big native one that suckers and seeds. Common milkweed is the most widely disseminated species of milkweed found in Maryland, and it is a food source for the Monarch butterfly. It is an erect, perennial plant with hairy, simple stems. The leaves are waxy-looking with a prominent white midvein and are pointed at the tip. It blooms in early summer, and the flowers are arranged in spherical clusters. Flowers are usually lavender to light pink--and fragrant! After flowering, common milkweed produces one to several seed pods that begins as green, then dry and split open to release its seeds. Each seed is attached to hairs that allow it to be carried with the wind.

Although it is a great native, you probably don't want it actually in your asparagus bed. Because of the extensive root system, a systemic herbicide works well. The only one labeled for vegetable gardens is one containing glyphosate but read the label to be sure you are getting one with only glyphosate and that can be used in vegetable gardens.
The best time to apply herbicides is during the bud stage, just before the flower blooms, which usually occurs in early or mid-summer. At that time of year, the plant has depleted its root energy stores in order to produce the flower and will readily translocate a systemic herbicide to the roots.