Plant of Week 17: Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed is a bushy perennial that has large, flat-topped clusters of orange flowers. This plant gets its name because its bright flowers are known to attract many different species of butterflies, including monarchs and swallowtails. It also attracts hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators.

Species: Asclepias tuberosa

HABITAT: Butterfly weed is drought tolerant, and grows well in open, dry habitats such as prairies and grasslands. It can be found from Maine to South Dakota, and as far south as Florida.

IS IT EDIBLE?: The flower buds and shoots of butterfly weed are edible, but must be cooked or par-boiled first. The plant is toxic if eaten raw, and should never be eaten in large quantities. The flowers clusters can also be boiled down to make a sugary syrup.

IS IT MEDICINAL?: Butterfly weed was used medicinally by Native Americans for centuries to treat lung diseases, dysentery, and rheumatism.

Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.