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Have you been meaning to add a few native plants to your garden? Now is the perfect time. Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.
butterfly-weed (Asclepias tuberosa
Photo © 2014, Joe Bauer, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
The flowers of butterfly-weed can be seen in the woods, prairies and savannas of Illinois from May through September. It grows particularly well in sandy soil. Typically the flowers are orange, but they can also be shades of yellow and red. The stems are hairy with leaves generally alternate, but leaves may be opposite on the upper part of the stem. The plant grows to a height of two to three feet. The sap of this species is clear, unlike the white sap of other milkweeds. The seed pods are five to six inches in length. As its common name indicates, the plant attracts butterflies as a food source for both adults and larvae.
Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.