Butterfly Milkweed

Asclepias curassavica (Viborana), Viborana in Spanish
Asclepias curassavica (Viborana), Viborana in Spanish

Asclepias curassavica, a native of Monteverde, occurs from sea level to 2,000m and can be found anywhere from Florida, USA to Argentina. It is often found in old pastures and second-growth forests as well as along streams and roadsides.

This shrub has a complex flower structure with a “skirt” that is made up of five red-orange petals, above which is an orange-yellow corona made up of cups and horns, the cups holding the nectar. Due to its poisonous cardenolides, the plant only attracts certain butterflies—and interestingly enough, those that are able to feast on the its nectar are also made unpalatable to many predators. It flowers and fruits year-round and is an evergreen.

It is easily propagated from cuttings and is considered an ornamental, making it a great candidate for native-species landscaping.