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ASCLEPIAS tuberosa

Image of Asclepias tuberosa

Ernst Benary® Inc.

Family

Asclepiadaceae

Botanical Name

ASCLEPIAS tuberosa

Plant Common Name

Butterfly Milkweed, Butterfly Weed

General Description

The colorful perennial wildflower butterfly weed is native to much of the United States and southern Canada. It is adapted to open meadows and old fields and offers bright color to sunny summer gardens.

From early to midsummer butterfly weed produces very showy clusters of bright orange, orange-red or yellow flowers that appear atop stems lined with green strap-like leaves. The individual flowers are complex and crown-shaped, and the stems emit a white milky latex if broken. Plants will rebloom in late summer to early fall if spent flowers are removed. The distinctive fruits are prominent bulbous follicles that split down one side to reveal many seeds topped with airy plumes of silvery white hairs that catch the wind and carry the seeds away.

Butterfly weed prefers a sunny location with well-drained, average soil. It has a substantial taproot that is sensitive to disturbance, so plants do not transplant well and are best propagated from seed. This adaptable and desirable perennial is great for sunny beds, wildflower or butterfly gardens. The dried pods are also used in everlasting flower arrangements making these plants equally suitable for cutting gardens.

As its name would suggest, a wide array of butterflies are attracted to butterfly weed. 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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 3

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    24"-36" / 61.0cm - 91.4cm

  • Width

    12"-24" / 30.5cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    North America, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Orange, Orange Red

  • Fruit Color

    Brown, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Dried Flower/Everlasting, Mixed Border, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes