Here’s a lovely native milkweed, Asclepias purpurascens, commonly known as Purple Milkweed. This individual was growing in the field behind our house. Besides being eye-catching, Purple Milkweed is a great pollinator plant found sporadically throughout the US Midwest region and parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and the Carolinas.
Being a milkweed, it is an excellent host plant for migrating Monarch butterflies. Adult Monarchs will lay their eggs on the plant and the caterpillars feed on the milkweed leaves to survive. So these and other plants of this family are critical to the survival of this remarkable animal as it migrates from Canada to Central Mexico and back again each year. Monarch numbers have plummeted in recent years and milkweeds are key to their survival as a species. We mustn’t allow them to go the way of the Passenger Pigeon and the Carolina Parakeet—unique North American animals that exist now only as stuffed specimens in natural history museums.
Unfortunately, Purple Milkweed does not produce many seed pods and is rare in the wildflower seed trade. There are other milkweed species that are available. Here is a link to Holland Wildflower Farm’s Native Wildflower Seed Mix for Monarchs and to seed packets for three other Asclepias species.