Collected on June 23, 1993, this specimen was found by Fred Utech near the Loyalhanna Creek in Salem Township, Pennsylvania.
Do not let the common name affect your opinion of this plant! Butterfly weed (Aclepias tuberosa) is a beautiful plant, and the pollinators love the bright orange flowers. Native to eastern North America, it can be found in dry, full sun conditions. It is a great plant to add to your garden!
Like other milkweeds (butterfly weed is in the milkweed genus), butterfly weed flower clusters mature into seed pods, which eventual dry up to release airborne seeds in the late summer. The long, silk-like hairs (called pappi) have been used by Native Americans to make textiles.
Despite its looks, butterfly weed is poisonous to ingest. Like other milkweeds, this plant contains defensive chemicals called cardiac glycosides, which are poisonous to humans, livestock, and pets. Milkweeds vary in their toxicity depending on species and age of plant. Symptoms can include weakness, difficulty breathing, kidney damage, cardiac distress, pupil dilation, loss of muscle control, and respiratory paralysis.
Botanists at Carnegie Museum of Natural History share pieces of the herbarium’s historical hidden collection on the dates they were discovered or collected. Check back for more!