Butterfly Milkweed


Other names: pleurisy root, butterfly weed, yellow milkweed, orange swallowwort, orangeroot, whiteroot, Indian posy, windroot, Canada tuber, Canada flux, chigger flower

Blooming time: June to September

Height: up to 2 1/2 ft.

Stems and Leaves: Butterfly Milkweed has stout, simple or terminally branched stems that are generally clumped. Rough-pointed leaves, up to 6 inches long, alternate along the stem. The sap is a watery juice rather than the typical milky sap of most milkweeds.

Flowers and Fruit: The flowers are normally bright orange, but may be yellow. Many individual flowers make up a head. It attracts insects, mainly larger flying pollinators. Usually only a few of the numerous flowers get pollinated, so a typical plant has only one or two pods. The spindle-shaped pods contain many seeds. Each seed has a silky plume which aids in dispersal. It is easily established from seed, but transplanting is difficult because the root is stout and deep.

Interesting facts: The root was once considered a cure for pleurisy. It was listed by early doctors as having many medicinal uses.

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Page last updated March 23, 2015
Text resources: Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie- The Upper Midwest, Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roosa;
A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Northeastern and North-central North America, Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny
Photo by BarbMcGee - bjmcreations.com