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Swamp milkweed is an upright, 100 to 150 cm (39 to 59 in) tall plant, growing from thick, fleshy, white roots. Typically, its stems are branched and the clump forming plants emerge in late spring after most other plants have begun growth for the year. The oppositely arranged leaves are 7.5 to 15 cm (3 to 6 in) long and 1 to 4 cm (1 to 1 1 in) wide and are narrow and lance-shaped, with the ends tapering to a sharp point. The plants bloom in early to mid-summer, producing small, fragrant, pink to mauve (sometimes white) colored flowers in rounded umbels. The flower color may vary from darker shades of purple to soft, pinkish purple and a white flowering form exists as well. The flowers have five reflexed petals and an elevated central crown. After blooming, green seed pods, approximately 12 cm (4 3 in) long, are produced that when ripe, split open. They then release light to dark brown, flat seeds that are attached to silver-white silky-hairs ideal for catching the wind. This natural mechanism for seed dispersal is similar to that used by other milkweed plants.
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