Butterfly pea is a low, shrubby, or twining perennial in the pea family, with showy, butterfly-like flowers. The leaves are compound with three leaflets. This species grows in the southern parts of Missouri, in acid soils.
Butterfly weed, striking for its pure orange color, occurs in upland fields, prairies, glades, roadsides, wasteland, dry and rocky woods, and edges of woods, often on disturbed soil. It is also a favorite native plant for gardening.
In case the name doesn’t make it clear, this milkweed is a favorite nectar plant for butterflies, and the leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of monarch butterflies. One of our showiest native wildflowers, butterfly weed is also a favorite of gardeners.
The flowers of butterfly weed are massively displayed in terminal umbels (umbrella-like clusters with stalks all arising from the tip of the stem). They can be many shades of orange to brick-red, and occasionally yellow. A close look at the individual flowers shows they have the same unique structure as other milkweeds.
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