Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly Weed

Asclepias tuberosa

Butterfly Weed

♦ Zones:  3 - 9     Height:  12 - 30"     Exposure:  Full Sun ♦

Butterfly weed is a tuberous rooted perennial which occurs in dry or rocky open woods, glades, prairies, fields. It typically grows in a clump and features clusters of bright orange to yellow-orange flowers.  Unlike many of the other milkweeds, this species does not have milky-sapped stems. Flowers give way to prominent, spindle-shaped seed pods which split open when ripe releasing numerous silky-tailed seeds for dispersal by the wind. Seed pods are valued in dried flower arrangements.  It has a long bloom period from late spring throughout the summer.  Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly larvae (caterpillars).  It is also commonly called pleurisy root in reference to a prior medicinal use of the plant roots to treat lung inflammations.  Asclepias tuberosa is grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun.  It is drought tolerant and does well in poor, dry soils.  New growth tends to emerge late in the spring.  The plant does well in butterfly gardens, meadows, prairies, or naturalized/ native plant areas, and is effective in sunny borders.  Whether massing plants in large drifts or sprinkling them throughout a prairie or meadow, butterfly weed is one of the showiest wildflowers.

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