The scientific name of Butterfly Milkweed is Asclepias tuberose. This native perennial plant has several other common names, such as Fluxroot, Pleurisy Root, Orange Milkweed, Indian Posy, Canada Root, Indian Paintbrush, Chiggerflower, Orange Swallow-wort, Chigger flower, Silky Swallow-wort, Yellow Milkweed, White-root, Tuber Root and Windroot.
This member of the Milkweed family can be found in New England, Utah, south Arizona, Mississippi and Texas. It is a unique plant because it does not have any milky sap like other members of the same genus.
The Butterfly Milkweed is a plant that can grow to be heights of three inches. It might develop with a single central stem, mainly when it is young, and then branch outwards from the taproot, which can be quite large, to form a small bush. Older plants have multiple stems that emerge from the same large taproot.
The leaves are alternate and range in colour from yellowish green to green. They are slightly shiny even though they have tiny hairs on them. They are broadly linear or linear in shape and have smooth margins.
Flowers and fruits
Butterfly Milkweed flowers have quite a complex structure. Each flower is divided into five equal parts that have unique hoods that project upwards and the conventional petals are below this. The hoods are in the shape of small scoops and the nectar is released towards the inner bottom surface of each hood. These flowers bloom from around early to late summer based on the level of moisture there is and the blooming period is quite long lasting. The flowers do not have a floral scent.
These flowers produce pods that are filled with small, brown seeds that have a papery texture and silky white hairs on them. These pods split open on one side once the seeds reach maturity. The hairs help wind pollination of these seeds.
Many of these shrubs spread using lateral roots, or rhizomes. This shrub grows as a single clump from woody rootstock. It is not invasive, which makes it a good candidate to have in home yards and gardens, as opposed to other milkweeds which are mainly invasive types.
This shrub is grown commonly in prairies and roadside habitat, usually during early summer. They are beautiful and a treat for the eye, and they also attract a large variety of insects such as butterflies, beetles and caterpillars.
If you’re thinking of growing this plant then you need to know that it is very sun-loving, so choose a full sun location in which to plant it, with preferably a sandy, slightly acidic soil. This shrub has the ability to grow in other types of soils as well, including rocky soil or those that contain clay, just so long as it is well drained.
You can know if there is too much moisture in the soil by keeping an eye on the colour of the leaves. If there is too much moisture, the lower leaves will become a yellow colour, and the tap root will also start to rot.
This Butterfly Milkweed shrub is quite easy to care of, and is resistant to many diseases and does not have many pests or other threads. It is a plant that is quite slow to develop, so don’t be alarmed if the growth is slow because it is completely normal.