Butterfly Weed

Asclepias tuberosa

Not to be confused with Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) which has a reputation for hosting Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE), a protozoan parasite, is evergreen, and from Southern Sonora and Baja California.

Arizona is host to about 30 species of milkweeds (Asclepias) ranging from low desert to riparian corridors to grasslands and all the way up into pine forest zones.

Pay attention to where you’re buying a milkweed plant – large volume chain stores and some smaller nurseries treat plants with long lasting insecticides that can harm pollinators. Expect to see some aphids on milkweed plants most of the time; the absence of aphids may be an indicator that the plant has been treated with pesticides. If in question, ask the staff, although they may not be able to answer with certainty.

Aphids are not harmful to the plant and you should expect them on milkweeds in your garden. They also provide a food source for predators and a true ecological balance can only be achieved if you let nature balance the equation.

Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Status: Native
Origin: Southeastern and Central Arizona in habitats ranging from wetlands, to disturbed roadsides, and openings in oak woodlands.
Family: Asclepiadaceae
Size: 2′
Sun: Part sun to part shade
Watering: Moderate
Growth Rate:
Soil: Well drained preferred
Temperature: Hardy to -30 F
Disease and Pests:
Uses: Host for the Monarch and Queen butterflies.
Notes: This is a montane milkweed. Will reseed in the landscape. This plant tends to die back to an underground tuber in the winter so good drainage should be provided to avoid rot.


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