Wildflower Wednesday: Butterfly Weed

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Common Name: Butterfly Weed

Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa

Habitat & Range: dry soil, full sun, prairies and meadows

Bloom Time: summer

About: How about some more flowers that will attract butterflies and other pollinators? Butterfly Weed is a compact, lower growing perennial wildflower that can be purchased at a good nursery or easily seeded. It is better for attracting butterflies to smaller yards than big, sprawling plants like Milkweed or Joe-pye Weed (though it is a milkweed and thus still host to Monarchs and also to Gray Hairstreaks). And it’s orange, not all that common in wildflowers, which tend toward begin white, yellow, or purplish.

I have a specimen in my garden (originally purchased at, you guessed it, a native plant sale) that has been slowly growing in circumference for years. And I occasionally find volunteers pop up in other parts of the garden, which can easily be pulled or replanted elsewhere (if you catch them early; the long taproot this plant develops makes transplanting difficult once a plant is established). It is great in full sun and dry soil, so you can position in some of the most harsh spots in your garden, along with your Sedum and other tough plants. It can be found growing wild throughout the Lower Peninsula.

Here’s some on Mackinac Island:

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Reference: Wildflowers of Michigan by Stan Tekiela; Adventure Publications, 2000

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