Plant of the Week: Butterfly Milkweed

This beautiful prairie wildflower has weathered the recent drought well at Nature Boardwalk. Butterfly milkweed is a tuberous, rooted perennial. It grows in clumps to 1–3 feet tall and features clusters of bright orange to yellow-orange flowers atop upright to reclining, hairy stems with narrow, lance-shaped leaves. The complex flowers are divided into five parts with upward-projecting hood-like nectaries and conventional petals below. (A nectary is the nectar-producing location of the flower, typically held in some sort of a cup or tube at the end of fused petals.) Spindle-shaped seed pods split open when ripe, releasing papery, brown, silky-tailed seeds for dispersal by the wind. The flowers and leaves are a nectar and food source for many butterflies. The plant’s other common name, pleurisy root, refers to past historic use of the roots as a folk medicine to treat lung inflammations.

Common Names: butterfly milkweed, pleurisy root, butterfly weed

Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa

Family: Asclepiadaceae

Native Status: United States to northern Mexico

Plant Type: herbaceous perennial

Height: 1–2.5 feet

Flowering Time: June–August

Flower Color: yellow, orange

Interest: Flowers bloom in summer. Fruit/seed production begins in summer and ends in fall. Attracts butterflies.

Comments

Just looked at the south pond photos posted. Wow, how wonderful, pond scum and "native weeds." What's missing from these pics? Oh yeah, something that might actually interest the zoogoer - like paddleboats! You've really missed the mark in ruining the south pond. What you have is not unique, and of interest only to very few. So sad.

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