Edge of the Prairiethe sand prairies and savannas of the Chicago region

    Asclepias tuberosa
    Butterfly Milkweed

Most flowers on the prairie are yellow, pink/blue, or white. Butterfly Milkweed is unusual in being orange, pure and simple. It is a typical plant of xeric sand prairies, and blooms freely during the hottest, driest part of July, its tube shaped bunches of flowers providing nectar during a transitional period when nectar producing flowers are relatively scarce. Its deep root system and milky sap protect it from desication.

Asclepias tuberosa with butterfly

The butterfly pictured here appears to be an aphrodite, (Speyeria aphrodite) a colorful species considered by Panzer, et al. (1995) to be highly prairie dependent. The larval host plants are viola species such as Viola pedata; it is reasonable to believe that maintenance of a healthy population of these butterflies requires a habitat with violets and Butterfly Milkweed.


Asclepias tuberosa on Wildflower Nirvana.

Randy Emmitt photographs.

Butterfly weed on prairienursery.com.



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