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July Wildflower Spotlight: 
Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa

A lot has been written lately about the plight of the monarch butterfly. They are disappearing due to their loss of habitat. To save these beautiful butterflies we all must plant members of the milkweed family. Milkweed are the exclusive food of monarch butterfly caterpillars. Toxins in the milkweed sap accumulate in the tissue of the caterpillar rendering it poisonous and inedible to birds. There are lot of milkweed choices, but I like butterfly weed for its dramatic orange color. 

Asclepias tuberosa is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. It is drought tolerant and does well in poor, dry soils.  Butterfly weed does not transplant well due to its deep taproot, and is probably best left undisturbed once established.

Garden uses include butterfly gardens, meadows, prairies, naturalized/native plant areas or in sunny borders. Planted in large drifts or sprinkled throughout your garden butterfly weed is one of our showiest native wildflowers. It is a trouble-free perennial that will come back year after year in the same place without crowding its neighbors.

Native Americans call it pleurisy root in reference to the use of the plantís roots to treat lung inflammations. Despite its reported medicinal uses, most parts of butterfly weed probably are toxic. Do not ingest this plant.

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