Asclepias tuberosa at Cowles Indiana Dunes

Family:     Apocynaceae (Dogbane family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     30-107 cm (1-3.5 ft)

Blooming: June-Aug.



Asclepias tuberosa L.

Stem: a green to red color with a rough texture and covered in white hairs.  

Flowers: are small orange, 5-parted flower that spreads from a common point in clusters and blooms in early summer. The erect clusters are up to 6.4 cm (2.5 in) across the stem.  

Leaves: dark green, deeply veined, pointy tipped, 10 cm (4 in) long and 2.54 cm (1 in) wide. The leaves are simple and linear shaped. They are alternately arranged and have a wrinkly appearance to them. The topside of the leaf is usually smooth, but not always. The bottomside is hairy. Sometimes the leaves appear opposite or whorled on branches.  

Fruits: lance-shaped, greenish follicle that can be up to 15 cm (6 in) long. It turns tan and papery, splitting open to expose brown seeds with long silky white tufts of hair called a coma.  

Sun: Full to part sun

Ideal conditions: Dry soil in full sun to partial shade.

INPAWS Native Communities: Prairie Grassland (sun)

Asclepias tuberosa at Howes Prairie Indiana Dunes
Asclepias tuberosa at Indiana Dunes

Comments:  Butterflyweed is the only milkweed that has an alternate leaf arrangement other than tall green milkweed (Asclepias hirtella).  Other than the flower color, butterflyweed is also the only milkweed that does not exude a milky sap but rather a clear, watery sap.  


Not only does Butterflyweed attract a variety of swallowtail and monarch butterflies, but also ruby-throated hummingbirds.

photo by Nathanael Pilla

photo by Nathanael Pilla

photo by Dominick Pilla

Asclepias tuberosa Mnoke Prairie

photo by Nathanael Pilla

Species Present and Native