Tropical Milkweed (also known as Bloodflower and/or Mexican Milkweed) (Asclepias curassavica) Native in Mexico and the northern half of South America, Tropical Milkweed grows 30"-36" high and produces clusters of bright yellow or yellow-orange bi-colored flowers (sorry, no choice of flower color). About November the foliage will quickly yellow and begin to dry. SC native milkweed that is sometimes hard to find in plant nurseries: Honey bees just can't get enough of our tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica. Narrow Leaf Milkweed You Say "Local" Milkweed, What Do You Mean? Planting Asclepias curassavica in nonnative regions therefore remains controversial and criticized. ", The Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) also performs well, but the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) was a little trickier to grow. Of the insects, pollinators are a popular and important group for gardeners to … The Xerces Society recommneds that you re-place existing tropical milkweed with native milkweed … 440 Wilchester Blvd. It is native to Central and South America (Broyles and Stoj 2019). Green milkweed (Asclepias virdis) with a visiting milkweed bug. You have permission to edit this article. TROPICAL MILKWEED (not native, provided for comparison): This milkweed is often found in “Big Box” garden centers, but NOT NATIVE to SC, and not recommended for planting. To avoid the build-up of OE and to promote the continued migration of Monarch Butterflies you only need to cut that Tropical milkweed back. ", For gardeners who want to add more pollinator-friendly plants to their yards, Auld recommends the following books: "The Golden Guide to Butterflies and Moths," "The Golden Guide to Insects," and "How to Raise Monarch Butterflies -- a Step-by-Step Guide for Kids.". The picturesque land that is Camp Salmen Nature Park belonged to the Boy Scouts from 1924 until 1983, when the scouts moved to a rural property in Kiln, Miss. If you have tropical milkweed planted or if tropical is the only milkweed you can locate, don’t fret! The Tropical Milkweed is the one you’ll usually see at Armstrong and other chain nurseries. Last year, Auld grew nine types of  milkweed and had the most success with Aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis). The risk of exposure to freezing temperatures is there as a result which can be fatal to those in immature stages and adults. Learn about Florida's milkweed species. With the non-native tropical versions, year-round colonies of monarchs have formed in some areas. Being bird-friendly and being insect-friendly go hand-in-hand. Florida has twenty-one milkweed plants native to the state. Majewska AA(1)(2)(3), Altizer S(4)(5). Photo by Don Verser. Many other butterfly species, honey bees, and native bees take nectar from milkweed. Tropical Milkweed (A. curassavica) is non-native and produces year round, which some argue may throw off the monarch’s instinct to […] Milkweed and Monarch Concerns – 2015 March 18, 2015 at 3:43 pm - Reply How many birds die annually in window collisions alone? "You have to plant it in a raised bed. Here in the Bay Area, two species of Asclepias are classified as the "priority species" and are the two we grow at Yerba Buena Nursery. Native milkweeds to Houston include Green milkweed (Asclepias virdis), Aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis), Slim milkweed (Asclepias linearis), Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), and Zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides). Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) in bloom. Her group will evaluate the plants to see which grow the best in the area and what varieties attract the most insects. Exposure to Non-Native Tropical Milkweed Promotes Reproductive Development in Migratory Monarch Butterflies. By planting milkweed in your own garden, landscape and throughout your community, you can help reverse the fortune of these beautiful insects. Photo by Ray Mathews - wildflower.org, Slim milkweed (Asclepias linearis) in bloom. Hi there! With almost 30 years of experience, Weston Gardens is dedicated to Texas Native and Acclimate plants. St. Tammany Parish acquired the land in 2004 and re-opened the park in 2010. ", Part of the goal of the Slidell garden is to get native milkweed into public landscapes, she said. About November the foliage will quickly yellow and begin to dry. Using this species in the Houston area, however, has its downfalls. You can grow it in standing water, and it can grow in a regular flowerbed. We plant three species of milkweed (the host plant for the monarchs), but both the monarchs and the honey bees gravitate toward A. curassavica, a non-native.So do syrphid flies, carpenter bees, bumble bees, leafcutter bees and assorted other insects. Tropical milkweed is longer flowering than the much beloved native butterfly weed. The colorful flowers earned it the name bloodflower and scarlet milkweed commercially. "All of nature is connected. "When you're hiking the trails around the Bonnet Carre spillway or Honey Island Swamp, that's what you see growing there," she said. Shortly after this, the entire plant is generally cut back to near the soil line to let it rest until the following spring, when it will burst out with a fresh season of growth. tropical milkweed and can harm or even kill monarchs. The volunteers also helped enhance eight other areas of Camp Salmen with specific plants to attract wildlife. Unlike the milkweed species native to these locations, the tropical milkweed does not go dormant in the winter causing non-migratory groups of butterflies to form. Tropical milkweed is a large, showy milkweed with lovely yellow and orange flowers. Of the insects, pollinators are a popular and important group for gardeners to focus on supporting. Monarch caterpillars are tolerant of these chemicals⁠—in fact, cardenolides are the very compound that protects the monarch from predation. There are fifteen Asclepias varieties native to the state of California, from the Oregon border to Baja California. Houston Audubon From my review of California Native plant websites and Xerces Society information sheets, I’ve come up with an extremely simple formula. But unlike our native milkweed species, the lush green foliage of tropical milkweed will stay up all winter if not killed back by frost – and that is a problem. This may signal the normally-migratory butterflies that they’ve reached their destination or that they don’t need to continue the trip down the Mexico for the winter. We’ll also look at sandhills milkweed, which Scott calls the most important milkweed … Aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennus) in bloom. In many nurseries, the most readily available species of milkweed happens is a popular but non-native one. Although it’s easy to grow, tropical types host a parasite that infects and harms monarchs. For more information on Tropical milkweed, OE and Monarchs, visit www.monarchjointventure.org or www.texasbutterflyranch.com. A Monarch butterfly feeds on a milkweed plant. In addition to the concerns over OE and disruption of migration behavior, emerging research suggests that tropical milkweed may actually become toxic to monarch caterpillars when the plants are exposed to the warmer temperatures associated with climate change. From supporting local pollinators, to providing a place for children and adults alike to watch the incredible lifecycle of the monarch butterfly, milkweed definitely has a place in our gardens. Asclepias curassavica, commonly known as tropical milkweed or blood flower, is not reliably winter hardy in gardens north of zone 8. Since then, new additions have been added in phases, including an amphitheater overlooking Bayou Liberty, cabins for rent, new nature trails and the Boundless Kids Unlimited Playground, which is accessible to disabled children as well as able-bodied youngsters. Meet twelve of the most ornamental milkweeds native to different parts of the country. Shortly after this, the entire plant is generally cut back to near the soil line to let it rest until the following spring, when it will burst out with a fresh season of growth. The park, at 35122 Parish Parkway in Slidell, will celebrate the installation of the new garden on Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A map is available to guide visitors to each spot. A new butterfly garden at Camp Salmen Nature Park. Houston is an important location not only for migratory birds, but also for a popular (and imperiled) migratory insect – the Monarch Butterfly. Tropical milkweed is an annual plant that is no native to the US (Woodson, 1954). "Everything is an experiment with me," she said with a laugh. According to MonarchWatch.org, which certifies the sites, "without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Ascelpias curassavica. So, it is quite clear, as the authors of the recent study (Satterfield et al. "It likes a really dry root system, and we live in a swamp," Auld said. Milkweed: Native vs. With numerous common names including tropical milkweed, bloodflower, scarlet milkweed, sunset flower and silkweed, Asclepias curassavica is an interesting member of the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae) thought to be native to the Caribbean, South America, Central America or Mexico. The most prevalent milkweed species at nurseries around Houston is Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). Electronic records show that tropical milkweed was planted in gardens in the US as early as 1806 (Satterfield et al., 2015). Under these conditions, tropical milkweed produces higher cardenolide concentrations. Native milkweed or tropical milkweed, which is best? You can also order it online from MonarchWatch.org. We’ll talk about what it takes to grow those first- we know that’s why a lot of you clicked. For Camp Monarch, Auld and her army of volunteers planted the following mix of nectar and host plants: For more about butterfly gardening, check out the following articles from Times-Picayune gardening guru and LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill: Other questions:[email protected] Unlike Tropical Milkweed, which retains foliage all winter and even a few flowers, our native milkweed is completely winter dormant. Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), on the other hand, is native to Mexico and produces clusters of red and yellow tubular flowers throughout the year. Author information: (1)Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA. Use of the tropical milkweed in gardens has disrupted monarch migrations notably in California, Texas, Florida, and South Carolina. They will only sell you what's native to your area. As most monarch folks know, tropical milkweed is not native to the United States, but is now being sold at nurseries around the country, where people happily buy it and plant it in their gardens (thinking they are "helping the monarchs"). For our area: pink & white flowers = GOOD yellow & orange flowers = bad. First, Tropical milkweed is so hardy it doesn’t readily die-back in the winter. Similarly, without nectar from flowers these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico.". It’s helpful to have a diverse selection of native milkweed and flowering plants, but avoid tropical milkweed (A. curassavica). Most Monarch specialists agree, when given the opportunity, planting native milkweeds is always a better option. Volunteers with Auld's Project Monarch worked on garden from design to planting, with some plants grown from seeds in volunteers' homes before transplanting. The other issue with Tropical milkweed is its propensity to carry Ophryocytis elektroscirrha (commonly referred to as OE), a parasite whose primary host is the monarch butterfly. Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is a showstopper. Unlike Tropical Milkweed, which retains foliage all winter and even a few flowers, our native milkweed is completely winter dormant. Click here for more information on creating your own pollinator garden. It produces bunches of orange, yellow, and red tubular blooms for months. Since milkweed species have varying needs for sun, water and space, pay extra attention to growing requirements. Native milkweed dying out at summer’s end forced butterfly colonies to move on. 2015) point out, that tropical milkweed frequently supports monarchs breeding during the winter, whereas native milkweeds do so only in extremely rare circumstances. E-mail: [email protected], Create Inviting Habitats: Water Features, Nest Boxes, and Feeders, Working with your HOA, School, and Local Park, Birder Primer – A Beginner’s Quick Start Guide, Best Plants for a Bird-Friendly Landscape, Pre-planned Garden for Birds, Bees, and Butterflies, Sunny Gardens: Design Concepts and Recommendations. Asclepias is a genus of herbaceous, perennial, flowering plants known as milkweeds, named for their latex, a milky substance containing cardiac glycosides termed cardenolides, exuded where cells are damaged. Auld said the new garden -- and others of its type -- are critical to helping save the endangered Monarch. Without milkweed, monarchs can’t successfully reproduce and the species declines. Second, because the tropical milk-weed doesn’t die back, it can cause monarchs to break diapause, disrupting their migration. The research is definitely “lite” but makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. In a recent webinar staged by US Fish and Wildlife Service on creating Monarch butterfly habitat in the U.S., experts stated that it will take a minimum of five years to create a commercial market for native milkweeds. It's very good. It has yellow/orange flowers. "The caterpillars like it, the butterflies lay eggs on it. Tips for Raising Native Milkweed. Tropical « Back to Native Plants. Native to South America, tropical milkweed has showy scarlet and yellow flowers. Zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) in bloom. The more you add plants, the more you enhance plant diversity and insect diversity. Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) in bloom. We work with a large variety of Butterfly host plants. But it can work the opposite way. When we add to our oasis, good things happen. By cutting this species of milkweed back to less than 6-inches at the end of the season (and maybe once more during winter), you are helping keep OE at bay and assisting the monarch population. Photo by Carolyn Fannon -wildflower.org. The milkweed being discussed was the tropical variety most widely available in the usual stores, Asclepias curassavica, known commonly as Scarlet or Tropical milkweed. Slidell butterfly garden experiments with both, Gaura lindheimeri, "Whirling Butterflies" or  "Bee Blossom", Cassia alata      (Sulphur butterflies' host plant), Passion flower vines, Passiflora caerulea (Gulf Fritillary & Variegated Fritillary host plant), Louisiana native "Aquatic milkweed", Asclepias perennis, Boehmeria cylindrica (Red Admiral butterfly host plant), Celtis: Hackberry trees host plant for Hackberry Emperor, Tawny Emperor, Question Mark and Snout butterflies), Pipevine -Aristolochia tomentosa (host plant for Pipevine Swallowtail), Pawpaw trees: Asimina triloba (host plant for Zebra Swallowtails and Pawpaw Sphinx moths). The most recent article about the monarch butterfly in the New York Times has once again raised the question of whether we should be planting non-native milkweed. The volunteers growing it for me had it growing in sand with pine nuggets. recorded from Texas. Volunteers recently planted the garden, called Camp Monarch, with six kinds of native and tropical milkweeds, including: aquatic milkweed ( Linda Auld, founder of … If Houston does suffer a hard-freeze, those remaining monarchs and their caterpillars won’t survive the winter. The butterflies seek out milkweed, but what is already the most common type of milkweed in the southern U.S. will eventually kill them. Photo by Sally Wasowski - wildflower.org. Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) or Mexican Bloodflower is a non-native milkweed that has grown in popularity across the US. ", Camp Monarch is the 83rd official monarch waystation in the state. A good rule of thumb is to cut back your Tropical milkweed around Thanksgiving and then once more during the winter season. A. curassavica - Tropical Milkweed. Native and non-native milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) Houston, TX 77079, Telephone: 713-932-1639 Volunteers recently planted the garden, called Camp Monarch, with six kinds of native and tropical milkweeds, including: Linda Auld, founder of Project Monarch, is spearheading the Camp Monarch garden. In addition to supporting the monarch butterfly, many other creatures use milkweed in their day-to-day life. Alternatively, native milkweed … Choosing milkweed plants proves to be much more difficult than many initially expect. The root system of tropical milkweed is not as massive as the native milkweeds that are considered persistent weeds by farmers. "We're trying to push the Asclepias perennis. Where to find the milkweed and how to grow the milkweed plants. Being bird-friendly and being insect-friendly go hand-in-hand. I want to encourage people to ask their local garden center or nursery to order the native milkweeds. "Butterflies and other pollinators, including bees, moths, birds and bats, pollinate over 75 percent of the world's flowering plants," she said. A new butterfly garden at Camp Salmen Nature Park in Slidell is experimenting with varieties of milkweed to see which ones perform best. I am curious what you all think about the attraction of butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) vs. tropical milkweed (asclepias curassavica) as a nectar plant in your butterfly garden. Because of this, local pollinator gardens and native plantings typically use milkweeds, the host plant family for Monarchs, as a central component to their effort. It is hardy, easy-to-grow and supports Monarchs. Of Florida’s 21 native milkweed species, there are only a handful you can easily raise at home. It is now found worldwide in the tropics. His characterization of Tropical milkweed as a “life buoy” for Monarchs until the commercial market for native milkweeds can be developed holds great appeal. Visitors can enjoy nature walks throughout the 130-acre compound, music by members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and a butterfly release at 1:30 p.m. All activities are free. Tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica Butterfly milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa Milkweed plants are neonicotinoid and pesticide free! Where tropical milkweed is native, the Monarch doesn’t migrate so the size and strength of the butterfly doesn’t matter as much as it does to its northern migratory variety. Photo by Bill Carr - wildflower.org. "Butterflies help plants reproduce, which helps strengthen ecosystems and maintain life-sustaining biological diversity in nature. The waystation sites provide nectar sources, milkweed and shelter for migrating monarch butterflies. If the milkweed doesn’t die-back in the winter, the concentration of OE can build up to high levels. 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