Butterflyweed, Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflyweed

Asclepias tuberosa

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Summer
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam
Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Orange
Fragrance: No
Height: 2 - 3 feet
Spacing: 1 - 2 feet


Description

Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a tuberous rooted perennial which occurs in dry/rocky open woods, glades, prairies, fields and roadsides . It typically grows in a clump to 1-3feet tall and features clusters (umbels) of bright orange to yellow-orange flowers atop upright to reclining, hairy stems with narrow, lance-shaped leaves. Unlike many of the other milkweeds, this species does not have milky-sapped stems. Flowers give way to prominent, spindle-shaped seed pods (3-6 inches long) which split open when ripe releasing numerous silky-tailed seeds for dispersal by the wind.. Long bloom period from late spring throughout the summer. Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Does well in poor, dry soils. New growth tends to emerge late in the spring. Plants are easily grown from seed, but are somewhat slow to establish and may take 2-3 years to produce flowers. Mature plants may freely self-seed in the landscape if seed pods are not removed prior to splitting open. Butterfly weed does not transplant well due to its deep taproot, and is probably best left undisturbed once established.

Habitats include upland sand prairies, hill prairies, cemetery prairies, sandy savannas, open rocky woodlands, shale and sandstone glades (in southern Illinois), abandoned sandy fields, roadside embankments, and areas along railroads.

Although this plant develops somewhat slowly, it is easy to cultivate in open sunny areas once it becomes established. Tolerance to hot dry weather is excellent. If the taproot of a young plant is planted too close to the soil surface, it may become damaged by frost due to heaving of the soil.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Crown rot can be a problem in wet, poorly drained soils. }Susceptible to rust and leaf spot.
  Seed pods are valued in dried flower arrangements.
  Called pleurisy root in reference to a prior medicinal use of the plant roots to treat lung inflammations.
  Drought tolerant.
Further Information

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Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries