Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly-weed)
|Also known as:||Butterfly Milkweed|
|Habitat:||sun; dry fields, prairies|
|Bloom season:||June - September|
|Plant height:||1 to 2 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.
Flat-topped clusters 2 to 3 inches across of up to 25 flowers. Flowers are about 3/8-inch across, have a 5-parted crown with a curved horn projecting from the center of each of the 5 cylindrical hoods, arching over the short column in the center. 5 downward-curved petals flare out beneath. Flower color is primarily orange, but ranges from orange-yellow to red, usually with a yellow central column.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are 2 to 6 inches long, about 1 inch wide, toothless, finely hairy especially along the veins on the underside, somewhat glossy on the upper surface, pointed at the tip with little or no stalk, and often crowded on the stem. Attachment is mostly alternate though may be opposite on branches. Stems are stout and densely hairy. A plant can take on a bushy appearance from multiple stems and branches.
Erect narrow spindle-shaped pod about 6 inches long, covered in fine hairs. One plant often has a cluster of several pods. Seeds are large and brown with white silken “parachutes” to carry them away in the wind.
Butterfly-weed is often found along railroad beds growing in clumps, in dry fields and prairies and along roadsides. A host plant for Monarch butterfly caterpillars, the flower is a favorite for many other butterflies as well. It makes a fantastic garden plant with a long bloom season and an eye-popping color you don't see in many species. All Asclepias were formerly in family Asclepiadaceae but have been reassigned to Apocynaceae (Dogbane).
Please visit our sponsors
Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Butterfly-weed plants
- unusual two-tone flowers
- garden-grown Butterfly-weed
- a roadside stand of Butterfly-weed
- Monarch caterpillar on Butterfly-weed
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken along roadsides and in a private garden in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?