Asclepias/ Milkweed
Asclepias / Milkweed
Asclepias / Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly milkweed © Jeff McMillian, hosted by the USDA-NRCS Plants Database

Asclepias / Milkweed
Asclepias / Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa © Dr. Les Mehrhoff

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Danaus plexippus (Monarch) caterpillar on milkweed © Rollin Coville

Asclepias / Milkweed
Asclepias / Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly milkweed © Jeff McMillian, hosted by the USDA-NRCS Plants Database

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Genus: Asclepias

Common Name: Milkweed

details

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.

 

Native Regions

Nationwide, the United States and Canada

 

Availability

Routinely available

 

Duration

Perennial

 

Bloom Time

Summer to fall

 

Average Height

4 feet

 

Flower Color

Orange

Pink

Purple

White

 

Exposure

Full sun

 

Water Requirements

Dry to wet, depending upon species

 

Recommended 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.

bee Visitors

Anthophora / Digger Bee

Augochlorella / Sweat Bee

Bombus / Bumble Bee

Coelioxys / Cuckoo Bee

Colletes / Polyester Bee

Halictus / Sweat Bee

Hylaeus / Yellow-faced Bee

Lasioglossum / Sweat Bee

Megachile / Leafcutter Bee

Melissodes / Long-horned Bee

Nomada / Cuckoo Bee

Osmia / Mason Bee

Peponapis / Squash Bee

Xylocopa / Large Carpenter Bee

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