Asclepias tuberosa is a species of milkweed native to eastern North America. It is a perennial plant growing to 0.3–1 metre (1 ft 0 in–3 ft 3 in) tall, with clustered orange or yellow flowers from early summer to early autumn. 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.
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.
- Asclepias tuberosa subsp. interior – (Central United States)
- Asclepias tuberosa subsp. rolfsii – Rolfs milkweed (Southeastern United States)
- Asclepias tuberosa subsp. tuberosa – (Eastern United States)
Common names include butterfly weed, Canada root, chieger flower, chiggerflower, fluxroot, Indian paintbrush, Indian posy, orange milkweed, orange root, orange Swallow-wort, pleurisy root, silky swallow-wort, tuber root, yellow milkweed, white-root, windroot, butterfly love, butterflyweed, and butterfly milkweed.
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- Photo of a J.J. Audubon Plate Clay-Colored Sparrow perched atop Asclepias tuberosa