Index- plants in this Family
Asclepiadaceae / Milkweed
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Butterfly Milkweed is also known as Butterfly-weed, Chigger-weed and Pleurisy Root.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 64cm in height (25inches). The stem is hairy and branches near the top forming several flower heads. The juice is milky.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Leaves can reach 13cm in length (5inches). Each narrow, firm leaf is entire.
Flowers: The flowers have 5 Regular Parts and are up to 1cm wide (0.4 inches). They are bright orange. Blooms first appear in early summer and continue into late summer. The corolla reflexed exposing the five erect hoods, the horn is small.
Fruit: A pod filled with tiny seeds each with a tuff of silky hairs which become airborne.
Habitat: Dry open areas.
Range: From New England to Florida.

      Color Photo     More Info      Classification

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This is the only milkweed with alternate leaves. It is highly variable and several varieties have been described. The extremely bright color make it easy to spot. Like most milkweeds the juice is milky white.

Historical Lore: The pods of milkweeds may be eaten if boiled twice discarding the first water to remove the bitter taste.

Medical Uses: Listed in the U. S. Pharmacopeia in the 19th century the root was once widely used for lung problems such as asthma and bronchitis. It was made into a tea or sometimes eaten raw. Large doses of the root were sometimes used as a purgative. The root was also applied to sores. Warning: Contains cardiac glycosides which are toxic in large amounts.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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