Wanted: Butterfly Weed

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This native 1- to 3-foot herbaceous perennial, Asclepias tuberosa (not to be confused with butterfly bush, Buddleia) provides that fairly uncommon sight along roadsides, in meadows and, increasingly in gardens – a bright orange flower. This caught my eye so dramatically decades ago that I had to pull over while driving an interstate highway in Iowa, against the increasingly urgent verbotens of the Herr Professor in the passenger seat. Just had to take a look.


It is sometimes called orange milkweed, and Asclepias is a genus with many species that have milky latex sap,  though butterfly weed does not produce said sap. Enjoy the bright orange flowers, or try the ‘Mellow Yellow’ cultivar that sports buttery yellow flowers - and attract you some Lepidoptera! This is one “weed” that rarely meets the loose definition of “an unwanted plant.”