Common Name: Milkweed
The abundant nectar of milkweed flowers attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, native bees and other beneficial insects, making this plant an excellent choice for all pollinator gardens. In fact, milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.) provide the only larval host for monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and are therefore also vital as habitat plants for these threatened insects. By feeding on the milkweed, the monarch larvae absorb chemicals (cardiac glycosides) from the plant, which render them distasteful and toxic to birds and other predators.
Nationwide, the United States and Canada
Summer to fall
Dry to wet, depending upon species
Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed) is a shorter (2 – 3 foot), drought-tolerant species, native to most parts of the U.S. (except Nevada and the Northwest) and eastern Canada. It is routinely available, producing showy orange flowers in summer, which attract numerous native bee and butterfly species.
Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) is a tall (4 – 6 foot), moisture-loving species, native to most parts of the United States (except the West Coast) and eastern Canada. It is widely available as an ornamental and landscaping plant, developing fragrant, showy clusters of pink and light purple flowers in summer through fall. Swamp milkweed is a favored food of monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) larva. It is also an important food source for the queen butterfly (Danaus glippus) larva. Various other butterflies and hummingbirds consume nectar from the flowers.