Butterfly Weed - Asclepias Tuberosa
Butterfly weed, scientifically known as Asclepias tuberosa, is a native North American wildflower and a member of the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae). It is also commonly known as "pleurisy root" due to its historical medicinal use for treating lung ailments.
How tall does Butterfly weed grow?
Appearance: Asclepias tuberosa is a herbaceous perennial plant which typically grows to 1 to 3 feet (30 to 90 cm). It has clusters of bright orange to orange-red flowers with a flat, umbrella-like shape. The flowers are beautiful to pollinators, particularly butterflies, which is how it got its common name.
- Leaves: The plant has lance-shaped leaves arranged spirally along the stem. The stunning leaves are a rich green color and can be somewhat hairy.
- Habitat: Butterfly weed is native to various regions of North America and can be found in meadows, prairies, and open fields. It is well adapted to sunny, well-drained locations.
- Blooming Period: The plant typically blooms from late spring through mid-summer, producing vibrant flowers lasting several weeks. The flowers are an essential nectar source for many pollinators, especially monarch butterflies.
Are Butterfly weed beneficial to Monarch butterflies?
- Ecological Importance: Butterfly weed is an essential host plant for the monarch butterfly. Monarch caterpillars thrive on the leaves of milkweed plants, including butterfly weed. Planting butterfly weed can help support the declining monarch butterfly population.
- Propagation: Butterfly weed can be propagated from seeds. It's important to note that its seeds have a hard, impermeable coat that needs to be stratified or scarified before germination, mimicking natural conditions. This can be done by planting seeds in the fall or cold-stratifying them in the refrigerator.
- Garden Use: Butterfly weed is a popular choice for native plant gardens, pollinator gardens, and butterfly gardens. It can be an attractive addition to the landscape and helps support local wildlife.
- Medicinal Uses: Historically, certain Native American tribes used the roots of butterfly weed for medicinal purposes, particularly for treating lung conditions and as a remedy for pleurisy. However, it's important to note that using this plant for medicinal purposes should be done cautiously and preferably under the guidance of a qualified herbalist or healthcare provider.
Where to buy Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)?
Native Wildflowers Nursery lists Butterfly weed is a valuable and attractive plant that not only enhances the beauty of gardens but also plays a vital part in supporting pollinators, especially monarch butterflies. If you decide to cultivate butterfly weed, ensure that it is grown in well-drained soil and receives plenty of sunlight to thrive.