Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa

Common Name: butterfly weed

Other Common Names: orange milkweed, chigger weed, butterfly milkweed

Habit: forb/herb

Leaves: The leaves are alternate, simple, crowded, lance-shaped, 5-10 cm long, shiny green, smooth above and velvety beneath.

Identifying Characteristics: Butterfly milkweed grows on sandy, loamy, or rocky limestone soils of prairies, open woodlands, roadsides, and disturbed areas similar to other milkweed species. Milkweed Family (Asclepiadaceae). Asclepias tuberosa is a perennial herb 3-9 dm tall with woody rootstocks. According to Kelly Kindscher (1992), "Asclepias comes from the name of the Greek god of medicine, Asklepios. The species name, tuberosa, means full of swellings or knobs, referring to the enlarged root system." Butterfly milkweed stems are hairy, erect, and grow in numerous clumps. There is a watery sap within the stems and leaves.

Flower Seed Head: The flowers are in showy, rounded to flat-topped groups near the ends of branches. Each flower has 5 petals, bent downward, orange to red or sometimes yellow, topped by a crown of 5 erect hoods, each one containing a short horn.

Seed Fruit: Fruits are hairy, spindle-shaped pods 8-15 cm long. The numerous seeds each have a tuft of long white hairs at the tip.

Where Found: Milkweeds grow in clumps beside roadways, on abandoned farmlands, and in other open areas throughout the United States

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Herb

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Apocynaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: lance; oval

  • Leaf margin: entire

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Stem hairs: has hairs

  • Flower color: red; yellow; orange

  • Growth habit: woody bush or tree

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: simple

  • Leaf hairs: has hairs

  • Root structure: taproot; rhizomes present

  • Flower symmetry: radial symetery

  • Flower diameter: pencil

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf