Ontario Wildflowers website

Butterfly Milkweed
(Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) Other common names: Butterfly Weed, Pleurisy Root

Family: Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae), (Milkweed Family (Asclepiadaceae))

Group: Milkweeds

Distinctive features: Orange, milkweed-like flowers. Clear (not milky) sap.

Similar species:
  •   Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) - has rose-purple flowers.

  •   Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) - has rose-purple flowers.


Flowers: Summer;  Yellow, Orange;  5 parts (petals);  Orange (rarely yellow), in a cluster at top of the plant. Typical milkweed flowers in structure.

Leaves: Resemble those of Swamp Milkweed.

Height: 30-90 cm (11-35 in)

Stem: Clear sap, not milky like the other milkweeds and dogbanes.

Fruit/Seeds: Small black discs carried by the wind on silky hairs.

Habitat: Fields and Open Areas;  Dry open fields.

Grows in Sun/Shade: Sun

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 188    Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers: 208    ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario: 138   

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Uncommon.

Notes: Striking orange, milkweed-type flowers make this a very distinctive plant. Not very common.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: : tuberous


Photographs: 9 photographs on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Milkweed has strikingly orange flowers.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Closeup view of the flowers.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Insects love them, and you will usually see a lot of bees, flies, butterflies and other insects swarming around Butterfly Milkweed on warm sunny days.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Photograph by Kimberly Sayers

A monarch butterfly on Butterfly Milkweed.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Occasionally one will come across a Butterfly Milkweed that has yellow flowers.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Milkweed seed pods ripening.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Stem and leaves.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Ripe seed pods relasing their fluffy seeds, which will disperse by riding the wind.


Range map for Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)