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Butterfly Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa

Host plant for monarch and other caterpillars; pretty partner with rattlesnake master



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Asclepias tuberosa, commonly known as Butterfly Milkweed, is a native perennial plant with a deep root system. Milkweed seeds have a tuft of long silky hairs attached to one end, which is the seed dispersal mechanism. People of the First Nations boiled and ate the plant as pot herbs. They also considered Butterfly Milkweed an important medicine; they chewed it and placed it on wounds and bruises and used it to induce vomiting. Butterfly milkweed was once considered a cure for pleurisy.

Wildlife notes

Pollinators enjoy the flowers of Butterfly Milkweed. They attract a host of bee species as well as butterflies, wasps, and hummingbirds. The leaves and other plant parts are consumed by a number of insect species, including the Monarch butterfly’s caterpillar. Consuming milkweeds protects the insects by making them toxic to would-be predators.

Forage notes

Milkweeds have a latex-like sap that contains a variety of chemicals, principally cardiac glycosides, which limit palatability and make the plant toxic when consumed in large quantities. While the sap of Butterfly Milkweed is not milky, the plants are bitter-tasting and livestock seem to avoid it.

Landscaping notes

This is the showiest milkweed species; the striking flowers are usually orange but can vary from yellow to red. Many enamored landscapers have decided to transplant a Butterfly Milkweed only to discover that it has deep roots and is usually damaged during transplanting efforts; it is usually best to either establish it from seed or potted plants. It shares well with other species and is a great choice on drier sites. It works well as a cut flower and is a pretty in combination with Rattlesnake Master, Yellow Coneflower, and New Jersey Tea. This is a fun species to plant in outdoor classrooms or other kid-frequented settings due to the seeds that parachute through the air.

Restoration notes

Butterfly milkweed prefers sites on the drier end of the spectrum of soils. It is found in dry prairies, glades, savannas, open rocky woodlands and sand prairies.

Videos and Articles About This Plant

To learn more about this plant, check out our article about it and its uses.

Are Milkweeds Enough for Monarchs?

Additional information

Weight N/A

Packet, Ounce, Pound


Full Sun

Seeding Rate

9 bulk lbs/acre





Bloom Month

Jun, Jul


Orange, Red

Specialty Uses

Butterfly, Landscaping, Cut Flower, Medicinal, Tea

Cattle Palatability


# seeds/pkt


Packet coverage area

5 sq. ft

Life Cycle


What is PLS?

Pure Live Seed (PLS) is the portion of good viable seed per pound. It is a measure of the seed that is alive and able to sprout into plants. This product is sold by PLS ounce/pound. To provide one ounce/pound of viable seed, you will receive more than one ounce/pound of product. Read more about PLS here.