Butterfly milkweed is the most poisonous of the plants in the milkweed family. It is a perennial reproducing by rootstalks and seeds. Stems are stout and terminally branched. They are generally clumped and may reach to two feet tall. Stems contain a watery juice rather than a milky juice found in other milkweed. Leaves are lance-shaped with pointed tips, six inches long and alternate along the stem. Flowering occurs from June to September. Flowers are brilliant orange, red or yellow and are arranged in rounded bunches at the top of the plant. One to two spindle-shaped pods, three to five inches long are produced per plant, each contains many seeds. Pods split open in the fall to release the seeds. A silky plume on the top of each seed provides for easy wind distribution.
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