Glenn Nice, Weed Diagnostician,
Botany & Plant
Pathology, Purdue University and
Bill Johnson, Professor, Botany & Plant Pathology, Purdue University
The color orange is a color that you don’t
often see in nature; at least not as often as yellow and white.
That is not to say it does not exist. Trumpetcreeper (Picture
of the week April 17th, 2006), a common vine climbing telephone
poles in Indiana is one of them. However, one of the most beautiful
orange colored flowers is on butterfly weed (Asclepias
tuberosa L.), also known as butterfly milkweed. It is been given its common
name due to the fact that like common milkweed, it is one of the
sources of food for monarch butterfly caterpillars.
You can often find this native plant growing along
roadsides and dry waste areas. This representative of the color
orange can grow up to 2.5 feet tall and can be seen blooming all
summer long. Its stems are branching and hairy. Its leaves have
short petioles or none at all and are 2 to 6 inches long and 0.2
to 1 inch wide. Also like other milkweeds it produces a long finely
hairy pod (4-5 inches long) bearing small seeds that blow in the
wind for dispersal.
Click image to enlarge
Butterfly milkweed flowers
Butterfly milkweed pods