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Butterfly Weed

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Asclepias tuberosa

Asclepias tuberosa, commonly called butterfly weed, is a tuberous rooted, Texas native perennial in dry/rocky open woods, meadows, prairies, fields, and roadsides throughout the State. It typically grows in a clump to 1-2.5' 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 other milkweeds, this species does not have milky-sapped stems.

Flowers give way to prominent, spindle-shaped seed pods (3-6" long), which split open when ripe releasing numerous silky-tailed seeds for dispersal by the wind. Seed pods are valued in dried flower arrangements—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 larvae (caterpillars). Also commonly called pleurisy root, the prior medicinal use of the plant roots to treat lung inflammations.

They are quickly grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Drought tolerant. Does well in poor, dry soils. New growth tends to emerge late in the spring. Plants are quickly grown from seed but could be faster 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 before splitting open. Butterfly weed does not transplant well due to its deep taproot and is probably best left undisturbed once established.

Butterfly Host Plant: Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Height: 1’-2'
Spread: 1’-1.5'
Bloom: June-September
Light: Full Sun, Part Shade
Water: Low, Medium
Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Origin: Texas, United States

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