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Asclepias L.


  Asclepias sp.: stem  
Common names

butterfly weed

Species cultivated

Most commonly cultivated

Asclepias tuberosa L.

Other species

A. curassavica L.

A. incarnata L.

Popular cultivars are 'Gay Butterflies' and 'Moby Dick'.


North America (Asclepias tuberosa and A. incarnata) and South America (A. curassavica).

Brief characterization

Terminal or axillary umbel-like cymes of flowers with rotate corolla; 5 strongly reflexed corolla lobes concealing 5-parted calyx; 5 stamens with filaments inserted on the corolla tube, connate into a tube around and adherent to the style, and with prominent hood and horn appendages (a corona); fused stamens and 5-angled, enlarged stigmatic head form a structure called a gynostegium; pollen in masses (pollinia). Asclepias flowers recognizable due to their distinctive morphology.

Cultivar and/or species variation

Few cultivars; flowers red to orange to yellow, less commonly pink or white, ca. 2-2.5 cm across; corolla lobes vary in shape.

Countries exporting

Kenya, Zimbabwe.

Asclepias sp.: inflorescence, closeup

Asclepias sp.: flower

Asclepias curassavica: flower diagram (one hood and horn removed)
Photo: © K.R. Robertson, Illinois Natural History Survey

Asclepias incarnata 'Cinderella'
Photo: © K. Sahin, Zaden B.V.

Asclepias incarnata
Photo: © K.R. Robertson, Illinois Natural History Survey

Asclepias curassavica
Photo: © M. Fagg, Australian National Botanic Gardens

Asclepias curassavica 'Apollo Yellow'
Photo: © K. Sahin, Zaden B.V.