A common plant of sandhills and flatwoods. There are three subspecies of this milkweed, two of which occur in Florida. Asclepias tuberosa subsp. rolfsii is found throughout almost all of Florida. The leaves are usually hastate and often have crispate-revolute margins. The range of rolfsii extends through the southeastern coastal plain from Mississippi into Virginia. A. tuberosa subsp. tuberosa is only found in some of the most northern counties of Florida including at least Duval, Nassau and Holmes. This subspecies typically has obovate to oblanceolate leaves with flat margins that are cuneate at the base. Subspecies tuberosa ranges through the south, west to the Mississippi River, north into Illinois and Ohio and northeast into Maine. The third subspecies - interior - ranges from Northern Mexico, California to Misissippi and northeast through Minnesota to New York and into Ontario and Quebec.
A. tuberosa has alternate leaves on a hairy stem with terminal and axillary clusters of orange-red flowers. Unlike most of the other milkweeds, this species does not have milky-sapped stems.
This is a larval host plant for monarch and queen butterflies and also several moths: the milkweed tussock, dogbane tiger and unexpected cycnia.
This native milkweed should not be confused with the non-native scarlet milkweed - Asclepias curassavica - that is sometimes sold at plant outlets labeled as butterflyweed or butterfly milkweed. A. curassavica has opposite leaves that are narrowly lanceolate or elliptic.
Asclepias tuberosa is a member of the Apocynaceae - Dogbane family.
Other species of the Asclepias genus in the Wild Florida Photo database:
Asclepias cinerea - CAROLINA MILKWEED
Asclepias curassavica - SCARLET MILKWEED
Asclepias curtissii - CURTISS' MILKWEED
Asclepias humistrata - PINEWOODS MILKWEED
Asclepias lanceolata - FEWFLOWER MILKWEED
Asclepias longifolia - LONGLEAF MILKWEED
Asclepias michauxii - MICHAUX'S MILKWEED
Asclepias pedicellata - SAVANNAH MILKWEED
Asclepias perennis - SWAMP MILKWEED
Asclepias tomentosa - VELVETLEAF MILKWEED
Asclepias verticillata - WHORLED MILKWEED
Asclepias viridiflora - GREEN MILKWEED
Date record last modified: May 15, 2020