West Ga Chapter of GNPS
( Asclepias tuberosa )
Orange Milkweed, taken on June 5, 2005.
Photo Credit: Mike Strickland
Asclepias tuberosa, or Butterfly Weed, is a common sight along roadsides and in ditches. With its long bloom time from May until September, this makes a great flower for home gardens. Flower color can be yellow to dark red, but is generally a shade of orange, forming clusters that are 2-5 inches across atop hairy stems with narrow lance-shaped leaves. Green 'football shaped' seed pods produce dozens of flat brown seeds with a filament attached. As the pods ripen to a golden brown, the seeds are released and they float through the air, alighting a distance from the parent plant. With its long tap root, the Asclepias is very difficult to transplant, so collecting the ripened seeds is a surer way of propagating this plant. This plant prefers full sun and a dry soil. It is very drought tolerant. The Butterfly Weed provides nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds, as well as serving as a larval host plant for butterflies including Monarchs, Grey Hairstreaks and Queens. It is also very valuable as a nectar source for honey bees, bumblebees, and other native bees.