Asclepias tuberosa
butterfly weed

Asclepias tuberosa
Asclepias tuberosa
Photo courtesy Renee Brecht
Britton & Brown
Botanical name: Asclepias tuberosa L.
Common name: butterfly weed
Group: dicot
Family: Asclepiadaceae  
Growth type: forb/herb
Duration: perennial
Origin: native
Plant height: 1 - 2'
Foliage: Stem is hairy; leaves are alternate, up to 5 inches in length, stiff, narrow, and often wider at the base. Sometimes the leaves are opposite near the inflorescense.
Flower: 1/2", 1/2". Inflorescense is terminal and axillary umbellate cymes with approximately 25 flowers. 
Flowering time: Flowers June to September. Fruit is a pod with tiny seeds, each attached to a tuff of silky hairs. Wind-dispersed. 
Habitat: dry fields
Range in New Jersey: statewide
Heritage ranking, if any: n/a
Misc. USDA lists as UPL,  usually occurs in uplands.

This is the only milkweed with alternate leaves.

Medicinal Uses:  Root was used in 19th century for lung problems, as a purgative, and was applied to sores. Asclepias tuberosa contains cardiac glycosides which are toxic in large amounts.

Butterfly weed plant guide