Latin Name: (New taxonomic name) Asclepias tuberosa
[Pronounced: "ass-KLEEP-ee-us tuber-OH-sah"]
Type of Plant: Prairie Forb
Identification Helps: Moderate height, to 3 ft, with boldly red-orange (or sometimes yellow) flowers, as shown in the photograph.
Similar Species: No other prairie plant has flowers of this color and form. Other milkweeds have flowers of less prominent colors.
Preferred Growing Conditions in the Wild: This plant grows in mesic to dry soils, seldom in moist conditions.
Seasons of Growth and Bloom:This forb blooms from mid June through August.
Natural Distribution in Ohio: Butterflyweed grows naturally across all of Ohio, including non-prairie areas.
Description and General Information:Asclepias tuberosa cannot be missed when in bloom. Its orange-red color, along with the milkweed flowers, are diagnostic. It is one of the prairie's most beautiful forbs.
Unlike other milkweeds, a plucked butterflyweed leaf does not exude a milky sap.
Butterflyweed makes a beautiful garden plant, but it prefers dry, even infertile soils. It can take several years after seeding to grow flowers. It grows slowly for the first years, but then persists.
LIke most milkweeds, butterflyweed attracts a number of butterflies and other insects.
In presettlement times, Asclepias tuberosa was found only on Ohio's prairies. It was one of a few prairie species that was able to naturally seed, grow, and proliferate in open, dry, non-prairie environments. It therefore is found throughout Ohio and is not a specific prairie indicator, although it is found on virtually all mesic and xeric Ohio prairies.