Milkweed (Asclepias) is a natural wonder
– the host plant for the monarch and the queen butterflies. Without milkweed, these butterflies would cease to exist.
Milkweed is also an important nectar source for butterflies, bees and other nectar seeking insects.
Milkweed gets its common name from the milky sap it secretes when you snap a leaf or break the stem. The milky substance contains cardenolides which are consumed by the feeding caterpillars and stored in the body of the adult butterfly making them toxic and bitter-tasting to potential predators.
This beautiful and important perennial belongs to the genus Asclepias. There are over 150 species of Milkweed in the world with most of them being native to North America, South America, and southern regions of Africa.
Pictured is just a sampling of the colorful and diverse varieties of milkweed.
To ensure the survival of Monarch Butterflies, be sure to plant plenty milkweed in your garden!
Milkweed photographes taken by Bobby Gendron, owner of Butterfly Encounters.
Butterfly Encounters offers over 20 species of milkweed seeds and provides detailed information about growing milkweed from seed.