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What happens when different species hybridize?

Together, the common (Asclepias syriaca) and showy (Asclepias speciosa) milkweeds span most of the continental United States. These species come together and form hybrids in the central US. 

Little is known about what happens when different species mate. We are interested in what happens to the flowers when these species hybridize.

For many plants, including these milkweeds, flowers attract pollinators that spread pollen. By understanding how the flowers look in the hybrid zone, we can begin to understand why these species remain separate and how genes are passed between them.

Augustana University summer research students Sydney Kreutzmann (left) and Avery Selberg (right) measuring milkweed flowers at Makoce Washte preserve in South Dakota