July 17, 2019
By: Lise Lorimer,
Mass Hort Garden Educator
Asclepias tuberosa, commonly known as butterfly weed is a native, herbaceous, perennial that performs well even under stressful conditions such as drought, poor soil, and in full summer sun.
Unlike other milkweeds it doesn’t emit sap when its stem is crushed and won’t aggressively spread its root system throughout the garden. It can spread to about two feet and reach about eighteen inches high.
The flowers are a brilliant orange to yellow hue that develop into spindle-like seeds pods which can work well in dry-flower arrangements.
In the fall the seed pods ripen and split to reveal silky-tailed seeds which are dispersed by the wind.
This plant is also crucial for many butterflies and will attract a myriad of species. The flowers provide a high nectar reward to its pollinating visitors and the leaves are a specific food source for monarch butterflies.