Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed)
Butterfly weed Description:
Asclepias tuberosa, commonly known as Butterfly Weed or Orange Milkweed, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to North America. It typically grows to a height of 1-3 feet (0.3-0.9 meters) and spreads to about 1-2 feet (0.3-0.6 meters) wide. The plant has a deep taproot, which makes it drought-tolerant and helps it survive in a variety of soil types.
The leaves of the Asclepias tuberosa plant are long and narrow, measuring about 3-6 inches (7.6-15.2 cm) in length and 1-2 inches (2.5-5.1 cm) in width. The leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem and have a slightly fuzzy texture.
Asclepias tuberosa produces clusters of small, bright orange flowers at the top of the stem from late spring to mid-summer. The flowers have a unique structure consisting of five petals and five sepals that are fused to form a distinctive hood-shaped structure called the corona. The corona contains a nectar-rich reservoir that attracts a variety of pollinators, particularly butterflies and bees.
After the flowers are pollinated, Asclepias tuberosa produces elongated, spindle-shaped seed pods that can reach up to 5 inches (13 cm) long. These seed pods are filled with numerous small seeds that are attached to silky, white floss, which helps them to disperse in the wind.
Overall, Asclepias tuberosa is an important plant for pollinators, particularly butterflies, which rely on it as a host plant for their eggs and as a food source for their larvae. The plant is also used in traditional medicine for various ailments, and its young shoots were historically used as a vegetable by Native American tribes.
Butterfly weed is a widespread native plant that reaches from Minnesota south to Texas. It is also found as far west as California and as far east as Florida.
Standard Plant Information:
Plant Height: 1' - 3'
Bloom Time: June - September
Preferred Habitat: Does well in full sun and dry, open prairies.