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This is perhaps the showiest of the milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) because of the long-lasting and colorful flowers. Because Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is the only milkweed in Illinois that has orange flowers, it is easy to identify. This species is also unusual for a milkweed because its leaves are alternate and its foliage lacks a milky latex. Because of the absence of milky latex, it is often referred to as Butterfly Weed, rather than Butterfly Milkweed. The thick and bitter-tasting roots were used for various medicinal purposes in the past, including the treatment of pleurisy. As a result, another common name for this species is Pleurisy Root.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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