WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

The erect, hairy,1 1/2–3-foot tall stems have clusters of yellow to orange flowers and exude a clear sap, while other Asclepias species in NM have whitish flowers and milky sap. This popular landscape plant attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and moths for nectar.


FLOWERS: May–September. Yellow to orange flowers in loose, rounded clusters (umbels) 2–5-inches across (5–12.7 cm); flowers have 5 petal-like lobes that bend backwards with the tips spreading, 5 erect hoods with needle-like horns arching toward the central column. Fruit pods are slender, hairy, to 6 inches long (15 cm), and open to release flat seeds attached to fluffy hairs.


LEAVES: Alternate, irregularly spaced, crowded, on short stems (petioles). Blades narrow, lance-shaped, 1–4-inches long (2.5–10 cm) to 1 1/4-inches wide (3 cm), margins entire (no teeth), surfaces variably hairy.


HABITAT: Moist sandy, gravelly, loam soils; pinion-juniper woodlands, ponderosa forests.


ELEVATION: 3,600–8,200 feet.


RANGE: Widespread CA to Great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean; eastern Canada.


SIMILAR SPECIES: A. tuberosa varies in foliage and flower color, but is the only species of Asclepias in NM with yellow to orange flowers. The look-alike Mexican species A. curassavica, often seen in landscapes, has smooth stems, milky sap, and is not freeze tolerant.


NOTES: Numerous butterfly, beetle, bee and other insect species feed on nectar from all milkweed species. Monarch and Queen butterflies lay their eggs and the larva feed on A. tuberosa, but beetles pollinate it. Monarch Butterfly larva concentrate the cardiac glycosides in the leaves to make them poisonous to birds.


NM COUNTIES: Scattered statewide in low- to mid-elevation, moist habitats.

BUTTERFLY  MILKWEED

ASCLEPIAS  TUBEROSA

Dogbane Family, Apocynaceae (formerly Milkweed Family, Asclepiadaceae)

Perennial herb

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  1. 1.Petal-like lobes (upper arrow).

  2. 2. Horns inside hoods (middle arrow).

  3. 3. Hood of flower (lower arrow).

Stems and leaves are hairy.

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