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Asclepias curassavica L.;

Herb with milky latex; leaves opposite, oblong-lanceolate, margin entire, apex acute; flowers in umbels from the upper nodes; petals red, reflexed, gynostegium bright yellow; fruit a narrow follicle; seeds with silky parachute-like floss (modified funiculus). (Image at left photographed in Chesterfield County, Virginia.)

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Though showy and handsome, the plant spreads spontaneously from cultivation and often becomes weedy. The flowers are nectar-bearing and the plant is important for bees (Souza Novello 1981). Standley (1930) reports several medicinal uses. Fresh or dried leaves are applied to relieve cankers and skin sores (for example, as in some venereal diseases). Latex has been used to staunch bleeding and to quell toothaches. Taken internally, the leaves have emetic and purgative properties.