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Butterfly milkweed

Butterfly Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa
(Family Asclepiadaceae)

(See Photo) Asclepias tuberosa in the field. Photo by Hallie Craycraft.



(See Photo) Asclepias tuberosa inflorescence. Photo by Hallie Craycraft. 


One to many erect stems arising from a branched, thickened root crown.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, short-stalked, numerous, oblong to lanceolate, 2-4’’ long, ¼ - 1’’ wide, shiny green, nearly glabrous above, hairy below, margins entire, and tips rounded or pointed.
Inflorescence: One to several umbels, short-stalked or sessile, 6-25 flowered, terminal, in upper leaf axials.
Floret: About ½’’ tall, hour glass shaped, corolla orange to red or yellow, calyx lobed green to purple tinged
Sepals: Lobes linear to lanceolate, green to purple tinged.
Hoods and Horns: Hoods erect, horns slender and needle-shaped, all similarly colored.
Stamens: Five stamens inside corona, fused to ovary with anther wings.
Fruit: Pods that are spindle shaped, 3-6’’ long, ½’’ wide, nearly erect on downward curved stalks, finely pubescent. Seeds numerous and broadly oval


(See Photos) Asclepias tuberosa pod and Asclepias tuberosa seeds. Photos by Hallie Craycraft.                                                                                                           

Habitat: Dry sand or gravel soil or along stream edges. Requires full sun.

Native Status: Native to eastern North America

Flowering Period: May-September

Conservation Status: Not threatened


Distribution: Distributed throughout the eastern 2/3 of Kansas.
Kansas County Distributional Map for Asclepias tuberosa


Distributed throughout most of the United States, and south eastern Canada.

Visitors: The common name Butterfly Weed was given because butterflies are very attracted to this plant. It produces nectar and is brightly colored. Asclepias tuberosa serves as food for the larvae of the Queen Butterfly and the Monarch Butterfly. It also attracts hummingbirds, bees, and other insects.

Human Uses: Native Americans used Butterfly Milkweed to dissolve mucus for wet coughs and other pulmonary ailments.


Great Plains Flora Association 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. Pg. 987.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. 2011. Asclepias tuberosa.


Image Credits:

A. tuberosa in the field. Photo by Hallie Craycraft, 2011.

A. tuberosa inflorescence. Photo by Hallie Craycraft, 2011.

A. tuberosa pod. Photo by Hallie Craycraft, 2011.

A. tuberosa seeds. Photo by Hallie Craycraft, 2011.

Kansas distribution map.

North America distribution map.


Submitted by: Hallie Craycraft, July, 2011.

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
Comments can be sent to Mary Liz Jameson.
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