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Butterfly Milkweed

Photo by David Welfelt

Common Name: Butterfly Milkweed

Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa

Family: Milkweed

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 1 - 2 feet

Bloom Period: June, July


Description: Coarsely-hairy stems are upright and stout. Leaves are alternate and lance-shaped with coarse hairs. Yellow, orange or red-orange flowers are individually hour-glass shaped and clustered in showy heads.

Comments: Butterfly Milkweed has become a popular ornamental plant. Butterflies of all kinds perch on the flowers to sip nectar. The milkweed flower is highly specialized and unique. A vertical slit in the flower allows an insect’s foot to slip inside. When the insect pulls its foot loose, it dislodges a saddlebag-like structure with two pollen sacs attached. The pollen, still attached to the insect’s leg, is carried to the next plant and deposited when one of the pollen sacs slips inside the flower crevice. Butterfly Milkweed is found on prairies in the eastern two-thirds of Kansas.

Photo by David Welfelt