Butterfly weed Facts

Butterfly weed Facts
Butterfly weed is herbaceous plant that belongs to the dogbane family. There are 3 subspecies of butterfly weed that originate from the eastern parts of North America. Butterfly weed can be found in dry fields, meadows, prairies, open woodlands, canyons and on the hillsides. It grows on loamy and sandy, well-drained soils, in areas that provide plenty of sun. People cultivate butterfly weed as garden plant and use its flowers for the preparation of various bouquets.
Interesting Butterfly weed Facts:
Butterfly weed develops erect, multi-branched stem that can reach 1 to 3 feet in height. Stem is covered with hairs and it becomes woody after couple of years.
Butterfly weed produces lanceolate, linear or oblong leaves with pointed tips and smooth edges. Upper surface of the leaves is darker and shinier than the bottom side. Leaves are alternately arranged on the stem.
Butterfly weed produces bright orange (rarely yellow) flowers arranged in flat clusters on top of the flowering stem. Individual flowers are small. They consist of 5 petals. Butterfly weed starts to produce flowers 3 years after planting.
Butterfly weed blooms from May to September. It attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, main pollinators of this species.
Fruit of butterfly weed is narrow, grayish green pod covered with hairs. Fruit ripens at the end of the summer or at the beginning of the fall. Each pod contains hundreds of seed equipped with silky, white tufts of hair which facilitate dispersal by wind.
Butterfly weed propagates via seed and root cuttings.
Scientific name of the butterfly weed is "Asclepias tuberosa". Name refers to the medical properties of this plant (Ascleopios was Greek god of medicine) and swollen (tuberosa) and knobby shape of the root.
Butterfly weed is also known as "orange milkweed" even though it produces translucent (instead of milky) sap.
Butterfly weed is host plant for the Monarch butterfly. Caterpillars use leaves of butterfly weed as a basic source of food until they transform into butterflies.
Flower buds, shoots and stem of butterfly weed were used in diet of certain tribes of Native Americans.
Fibers isolated from the stem of butterfly weed were used in the manufacture of ropes, cordage and cloth in the past. These fibers were often mixed with fibers isolated from the hemp to ensure longevity of produced items.
Root of butterfly weed was used in treatment of pleurisy, bronchitis and other pulmonary disorders in the past.
Butterfly weed can be also used in treatment of diarrhea, snow blindness, snakebites, sore throat, colic and to stimulate production of milk in the breastfeeding women.
All parts of butterfly weed contain cardiac glycosides, group of toxic compounds that can induce stupor, weakness, vomiting and spasms when they are consumed in large quantities.
Butterfly weed is perennial plant (lifespan: more than 2 years in the wild).


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