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butterfly weed seed pods photo

Common Names: Pleurisy Root, Orange Milkweed

Review By Hayden zone 7

Butterfly Weed, one of the most striking of native plants, lights up the prairies with its blazing orange flowers. Butterfly milkweed seed thrives in rocky or sandy soil, typically in open fields or along roadsides. One of its common names, pleurisy root, refers to an old remedy for lung ailments that contained this plant. At one time, the silk from Butterfly Weed seed pods was spun for fabric or used for stuffing pillows; in World War II, school children gathered the silk to provide a cheap filling for soldiers’ life jackets. Commercial attempts to make use of this abundant plant included the manufacture of paper, fabric, lubricant, fuel, and rubber; eventually these became impractical and were abandoned. Though this plant is toxic to most animals, butterflies are immune to the plant’s poison and actually become rather poisonous themselves as protection from predators.

Review By Melissa Anthony

Growing: Young plants should be watered until they become established; mature plants can tolerate drought, and the roots will be damaged by excessively wet soil. This plant grows slowly, and it may take 2-3 years to produce flowers. Though not invasive, this plant will eventually spread if left to drop its seed. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Deer avoid this plant. If aphids become a problem, dislodge them from the plant with a strong stream of water.

Butterfly weed seed pods photo

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Squishing Oleander Aphids is the most effective in my experience. It’s gross, but they are never coming back!

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Transplanting Butterfly Weed into the Garden

[8] – Paola A. Barriga, Eleanore D. Sternberg, Thierry Lefèvre, Jacobus C. de Roode, Sonia Altizer, Occurrence and host specificity of a neogregarine protozoan in four milkweed butterfly hosts (Danaus spp.),Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, Volume 140, 2016,Pages 75-82, ISSN 0022-2011, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jip.2016.09.003.

The Butterfly Weed leaves are alternate on the stalk and for size are about 3″ long by 1/2″ wide with smooth margins. Leaves generally are veined, with a central vein being the most prominent. You may notice your Butterfly Weed leaves curling upward lengthwise – this is normal.

Oleander Aphid Control on Milkweed

The underside of the leaves is a lighter shade of green, which makes for a really cool color transition.