California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Asclepias curassavica with Monarch and Caterpillar * Tropical Milkweed, Bloodweed

Asclepias curassavica is a solid Monarch attractor but it is also one of the tropical milkweeds that have been in the news for the wrong reasons. Asclepias curassavica cultivars have been implicated in being a vector for a protazoan parasite OE that infects Monarch Butterflies. This Tropical Milkweed plant has both an adult Monarch nectaring and a caterpillar feeding on the leaves. Asclepias curassavica will often recover from a severe muching by the Monarchs. The Tropical Milkweeds dont go dormant as readily as the native species. This allows protazoan populations to build up and continue to infect Monarchs all year. A sharp pair of pruners can break this cycle. Call it artificial dormancy, cut your plants back to about 2" tall removing all foliage once or twice a winter. This way you can enjoy Asclepias curassavica without the guilt of doing in the Monarch Butterflies. Several other species in the milkweed family have also been found to be vectors for this OE protazoan as well and should be given the same forced dormancy treatment. Bloodweed is another name for this popular butterfly attractor. Asclepias curassavica has sprays of yellow and red flowers late Spring to frost. Asclepias curassavica is also a nector source for the Gray Hairstreak, Painted Lady and Tarantula Hawk. Plant Asclepias curassavica in partial shade to full sun. The Tropical Milkweed can take some drought but will look much better and recover far more readily with a reasonable water diet particularly if it is planted in a sunny location. Asclepias curassavica is native to American Tropics. Asclepias curassavica can grow to 3-4 feet tall and wide. The tops will die back with any significant frost but these Tropicl Milkweed plants are potentially root hardy into the teens.

Asclepias curassavica with Monarch and Caterpillar, Tropical Milkweed, Bloodweed

Flowers and foliage of Asclepias curassavica the Tropical Milkweed or Bloodweed. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.

Other plants from the genus Asclepias featured on this site:
Asclepias californica
Asclepias cordifolia
Asclepias curassavica Silky Gold
Asclepias eriocarpa
Aslepias erosa
Asclepias fascicularis
Asclepias linaria
Asclepias speciosa
Asclepias subulata
Asclepias tuberosa