California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Asclepias tuberosa * Butterfly Weed

This Butterfly Weed is a half hardy perennial, sometimes it comes back from the roots. The Asclepias tuberosa flowers are ornate yellow and gold. The orange portions are reflexed, or bent back, sepals. The real reason most people plant Asclepias tuberosa is the Monarch Butterflies that come to feed on the leaves. The Monarch Butterfly will incorporate some of the toxins in the leaves into their bodies. This makes them taste bad. Bad enough that the Scrub Jays leave them alone. People often buy chrysalis' to get the butterflies started in their own yards. I have found Asclepias tuberosa plants perform best with moderate water in light shade. The Gray Hairstreak will use Asclepias tuberosa and a nectar resource. Several other plants carry the butterfly name in their common names, Buddleia and Clerodendrum ugandense. A similar looking butterfly species the, Gulf Fritillary Butterfly, is attracted to the passion flower vines but that does not have the toxin. The birds leave it alone just the same. Asclepias tuberosa is a frequent addition to the butterfly garden and is likely the most frequently available Asclepias.

High resolution photos of Asclepias tuberosa are part of our garden image collection.

Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly Weed