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(Asclepias tuberosa)
Butterfly Weed

Host Plant for: Monarch, Gray Hairsteak, and Queen butterflies, and Milkweed Tussock Moth

Nectar Plant: Bees and Wasps and many other butterflies

Flower Color: Orange/Yellow

Growth Habit: Herbaceous plant that grows to 1-2 feet tall

Range in North America: All of North America except northwest

Exposure: Full sun, but can tolerate partial shade

Hardiness: Zones 3a-9a

Soil Requirements: Dry to medium soil with good drainage

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Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Orange flowers of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in the McMullen House gardens.
Butterfly Weed in Garden — author image

Alternative Names

Butterfly Milkweed, Chiggerflower, Indian Paintbrush, Pleurisy Root, Chieger Flower, Orange Milkweed

Description of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), a member of the Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family), is a herbaceous perennial that grows to 3 feet tall and blooms in the spring and summer with orange/yellow flowers.  Here at McMullen House this plant seems to be favored by rabbits.  More about butterfly weed can be found on this blog post.

Hosted Species

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Male Monarch Butterfly (Danaus gillipus) on plant.
Monarch Butterfly on Green Flower — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus)

Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus) on a branch.
Queen Butterfly on a Branch — Korall, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Gray Hairstreak Butterfly on a flower
Gray Hairstreak on White Flower — ALAN SCHMIERER, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nectar Species

Butterfly weed is a nectar plant for bees, wasps, and other butterflies.


This milkweed grows in open areas such as fields, open woods, roadsides, and prairies.

Range of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in the United States and Canada

Range map of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in the United States and Canada.

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Asclepias, is the Greek name for the God of Medicine.  The species name, tuberosa, is Latin for the tuberous roots.  This plant was the 1985 Wildflower of the Year in North Carolina.

Links of Interest

North Carolina Extension Gardener

Native Location

Ontario, Quebec, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone

Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9


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Butterfly Weed”

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