Asclepias tuberosa is a species of milkweed native to eastern North America. It is a perennial plant growing to 0.3–1 metre (10 in–3 ft 3 in) tall, with clustered orange or yellow flowers from early summer to early fall. The leaves are spirally arranged, lanceolate, 5–12 cm long and 2–3 cm broad.
This plant favors dry, sand or gravel soil, but has also been reported on stream margins. It requires full sun.
It is commonly known as Butterfly Weed because of the butterflies that are attracted to the plant by its color and its copious production of nectar. It is also the larval food plant of the Queen and Monarch butterflies. Hummingbirds, bees and other insects are also attracted.
Extracts were used by Native Americans as an expectorant for wet coughs and other pulmonary ailments. Use of the herb is contraindicated in pregnancy, during lactation or with infants due to the small amount of cardiac glycosides.
The plant looks similar to the Lanceolate Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata), but is uniquely identified by the larger number of flowers, and the hairy stems that are not milky when broken. It is most commonly found in fields with dry soil.
Butterfly weed is easily propagated in water.
- Asclepias tuberosa interior (Central United States)
- Asclepias tuberosa rolfsii – Rolfs Milkweed (Southeastern United States)
- Asclepias tuberosa tuberosa (Eastern United States)
Common names include Butterfly Weed, Canada Root, Chigger Flower, Chiggerflower, Fluxroot, Indian Paintbrush, Indian Posy, Orange Milkweed, Orange Swallow-wort, Pleurisy Root, Silky Swallow-wort, Tuber Root, Yellow Milkweed, White-root, and Windroot, and also Butterfly Love.
- Nina Cummings, ed. (2011). Native Landscaping Takes Root in Chicago. p. 13.
- University of Texas, Austin
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- Peterson, Roger Tory; Margaret McKenny (1968). A Field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-18325-1.
- Photo of a J.J. Audubon Plate Clay-Colored Sparrow perched atop Asclepias tuberosa