| Feb 15, 2006
|| BUTTERFLY WEED
Butterfly Weed is a member of the milkweed family but does not have the thick milky sap or opposite leaves of other milkweed species. The flowers are a bright orange and are arranged in clusters at the top of the stems. As the name indicates, the plant is attractive to butterflies. The insects are able to get large amounts of nectar from the flowers over an extended period. Visitors include the monarch butterfly and hummingbirds. The larva of the monarch butterfly also depend on the leaves for food. The plant grows to a height of about 2 feet. Other common names for butterfly weed are, indian paintbrush, pleurisy root, chigger flower, canada-root, indian posy, orange-root, orange swallowwort, tuberroot, whiteroot, windroot, and orange milkweed.. It prefers sandy dry soil and grows in open fields or in sunny openings in wooded areas. Because of its showy flowers, attractiveness to butterflies and general hardiness, butterfly weed is used in home gardens. The long taproot that allows the plant to withstand drought also makes it difficult to transplant. The best way to obtain butterfly weed is by starting with seed. It then takes 2 years for the plant to get established. Butterfly Weed does not tolerate overwatering. Everything is not perfect about this plant. It does attract some unwanted pests like aphids. Some gardeners grow butterfly weed on the edges their property hoping to lure pests away from other plants. Butterfly Weed can be found in open patches on Monte Sano Slopes and along roadside banks. It is also along Monte Sano Blvd, and Governor's drive in the vicinity of the overlook. Seed can be purchased from garden centers or catalogs.