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ASCLEPIAS curassavica 'Red Butterfly'

Image of Asclepias curassavica 'Red Butterfly'

Maureen Gilmer



Botanical Name

ASCLEPIAS curassavica 'Red Butterfly'

Plant Common Name

Bloodflower, Red Butterfly Milkweed, Scarlet Milkweed

General Description

Butterflies can’t resist this evergreen perennial. The cultivar ‘Red Butterfly’ of Indian butterfly weed are vigorous growers with brightly colored flower clusters in red, yellow that are darker than average. The stems are sturdy and flowers excellent for cutting.

Also known as blood flower, this butterfly weed is native to Mexico and South America and has naturalized throughout subtropical and tropical regions worldwide. Hummingbirds and bees are also regular visitors to the showy flowers.

The plant has upright branched stems which sport lance-shaped, opposite leaves of medium green. When broken, the stems emit a milky-white, sticky latex sap. In the heat of summer plants produce flattened clusters of small, complex red flowers each topped with an yellow 'crown'. These colorful flowers will blossom into fall if regularly deadheaded. In the tropics, flowers appear all year. The distinctive fruits are prominent, long, narrow follicles that split down one side to reveal many seeds topped with airy plumes of white hairs that catch the wind and carry the seeds away.

Adaptable to most well drained soils, blood flower is happiest in full sun. It is cold sensitive and may not return in the coldest locations. Plants may self-sow, so remove their seedpods before they open if you don't want any unexpected additions to your garden. The dried pods are also used in everlasting flower arrangements making these plants suitable for cutting gardens. Blood flower is effective when massed in a sunny garden. The tendency to spread easily and quickly via seed makes this plant an invasive species in some locations and it is often considered a weed in tropical zones.

Wide arrays of butterflies are attracted to blood flower. In fact, Monarch larvae and adults specifically rely on Asclepias for food and defense. When their young eat the foliage they become distasteful to predators.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Width

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Bloom Time


  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Red, Gold

  • Flower Color Modifier


  • Fruit Color

    Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Cutflower, Dried Flower/Everlasting, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing