Asclepias curassavica – Tropical Milkweed
Tropical Milkweed, also known as Blood flower, is a tender evergreen perennial in the dogbane and milkweed family. It is native to South America, but has naturalized worldwide in many tropical and subtropical areas. It has a much longer flowering period than the perennial milkweeds that are winter hardy in Michigan. Showy red-orange flowers bloom late spring through late autumn except in USDA Zones 9-11 where it is winter hardy. Grows best in light, rich, evenly moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Will tolerate light shade and some soil dryness. Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees are attracted to the flowers. Monarch butterflies lay eggs on this plant and the resulting larvae (caterpillars) use the plant leaves as a food source. Flowers are followed by long, narrow seed pods (3-4” long) which split open when ripe releasing silky tailed seeds for dispersal by wind. Stems and leaves exude a milky sap when cut or bruised. Plants can be poisonous to livestock. Consider wearing gloves when working with these plants because the milky sap is poisonous if ingested and can be toxic to human skin.