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Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly milkweed) in flower. Photo credit: G. Kozlowski

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly milkweed) in flower. Photo credit: G. Kozlowski

Orange Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), also known as  “Butterfly Weed,” attracts a wide variety of butterfly species with its showy flowers and abundant nectar. This gorgeous and unique plant is fairly rare on Nantucket but is a very important component of Nantucket’s sandplain grasslands.

 

Orange Milkweed has great wildlife value; the leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly larvae, while the flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds, bees, and other insects. Native Americans even used this species to treat lung ailments, giving it another common name, “Pleurisy Root.”

Enjoy this wildflower, but please don’t pick it or dig it up!

Today the Orange Milkweed is increasingly rare due to habitat loss and over-collection for use in gardens. This is plant is the most commonly stolen plant from our properties so please enjoy it in place. Nantucket plant nurseries and garden centers do carry the orange milkweed to plant out in your gardens to attract native pollinators and enjoy the beautiful bright burst of color!

Prepared by: J.P. Krapek, NCF Science & Stewardship

 The Nantucket Conservation Foundation is a private, non-profit land trust that depends on contributions from our members to support our science projects, conservation property acquisitions, and land management efforts. If you are not already a member, please join us! www.nantucketconservation.org

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