Green leaved perennial with contrasting reddish stems. Small, fragrant, greenish-white, bell-shaped flowers, occur in clusters. Leaves turn bright yellow in the fall. Seedpods are long and narrow. Once mature, they turn dark reddish brown, splitting open to reveal many long white silky hairs to which small seeds are attached. This plant spreads rapidly by roots and tends to form colonies.
All parts of this plant are toxic. A milky latex in the stems can cause blistering.
500,000 seeds/pound; starts from seed, bare root.
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Open woods, pastures, roadsides, wooded slopes.
An alternate food source for Monarch caterplliars.
North American aboriginals used the tough fibres in the stem to make rope.