|Monday Melange: Butterfly Weed|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 16 September 2013|
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a perennial wildflower native to the eastern US. Butterfly weed is commonly found in dry open fields, its range extending from New England south to Florida and across to the western states including California, but not the Great plains states or Pacific Northwest. Butterfly weed is hardy between USDA plant zones 4 and 10 and is a member of the milkweed plant family (Asclepiadaceae). Unlike most milkweeds, it has alternate leaves and does not have milky sap.
Blooming from early to late summer, the bright orange flower clusters are large and very showy, and as the name implies attract butterflies. Butterfly weed grows to a height of 12 to 24 inches tall. The fruit is a pod filled with tiny seeds attached to white tufts that disperse via the wind. Butterfly weed prefers well-drained sandy soils and is an excellent choice for butterfly gardens, cutting gardens, in perennial borders or at the edges of fields. It can be grown from seed or transplanted in autumn.
Also known as pleurisy root, Native Americans chewed on the root of the butterfly weed, which was used as a remedy for pleurisy, a lung ailment. Apparently the pod can be eaten if it is boiled twice in fresh water, although Iíve never tried it. Butterfly weed is listed as possibly extirpated in Maine, endangered in New Hampshire, threatened in Vermont, of special concern in Rhode Island, and exploitably vulnerable in New York.
Photo source: www.apldmidwest.org