Butterfly Weed

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Asclepias Tuberosa[i]

Wildflowers

On the way home from work, I noticed some bright orange flowers at the side of the road, and quickly realized it was butterfly weed. I was pleasantly surprised that it was growing this late in the season. It is uncommon this far north.[ii] I didn’t realize that this was quite normal, because it turns out that this plant frequently blooms all summer long, from June all the way up to September.[iii]

It is quite a pretty plant, with a large cluster of small brilliant orange flowers[iv] with five petals each[v]. Growing up to 2.5 feet, the plant has long oblong leaves and a hairy stem.[vi] It is found in fields and other open areas with dry sandy soil.[vii]Though it is a member of the milkweed family, it does not have a milky sap.[viii] And true to its name, it attracts butterflies.[ix] Actually it attracts many pollinators, not just butterflies,[x] as the flowers are very rich in nectar.

On a side note, I also made the mistake of confusing butterfly weed with butterfly bush when a friend was talking about it on Facebook. At first I thought she was confused because the plant she had shown an image of had blue flowers instead of orange. Turns out I was the one who got confused. Oops. But like butterfly bush, butterfly weed is sometimes grown in gardens[xi].

[i] Elliman, Ted and Wildflower Society of New England “Wildflowers of New England” 2016 Timber Press Inc. Portland OR  pg 388

[ii] Elliman, Ted and Wildflower Society of New England “Wildflowers of New England” 2016 Timber Press Inc. Portland OR  pg 388

[iii] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 361-2

[iv] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 361-2

[v] Elliman, Ted and Wildflower Society of New England “Wildflowers of New England” 2016 Timber Press Inc. Portland OR  pg 388

[vi] [vi] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 361-2

[vii] Elliman, Ted and Wildflower Society of New England “Wildflowers of New England” 2016 Timber Press Inc. Portland OR  pg 388

[viii] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 361-2

[ix] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 361-2

[x] Author unknown, posted by ‘Kristen‘ “Don’t Weed the Milkweed” Mass Audubon http://blogs.massaudubon.org/yourgreatoutdoors/dont-weed-the-milkweed/ Posted 10JUL2012

[xi] Elliman, Ted and Wildflower Society of New England “Wildflowers of New England” 2016 Timber Press Inc. Portland OR  pg 388

 

Photo Credit: Me

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