A vivid, penetrating flash of brightest glowing orange suddenly greets us as we cross the grassy fields during July, and we stop immediately to express our admiration for this most stunning and handsome of the Milkweeds. It is always so refreshing and invigorating, that we never seem to tire of its presence. It is a lively bloomer from June to September, and loves the surroundings of dry fields and pastures where it abounds, to the everlasting joy of hosts of butterflies and flying insects that are invariably associated with it. Surely, it should have been called the Butterflies, Mecca! This magnificent herb has several medicinal virtues attributed to it. It was held in high esteem by the Indians, who extracted a crude, sugar-like substance from the flowers. Its roots supplied their medicine man with material to allay various physical ailments, and their squaws used the young green pods extensively for food, cooking them in a sort of meat stew. The Delaware Indians are said to have even cultivated it. The fuzzy shoots are cut when a few inches long, and are boiled and eaten after the manner of asparagus. It has also long been used in domestic practice, where it has served in cases of disordered digestion, and afflictions of the lungs; to relieve pains in the chest, and to assist in producing perspiration and easier breathing. The root is collected annually in the fall, and sold to druggists. The stout, roughish-hairy, purple-stained stalk, which is very leafy, grows from one to two feet high, and branches only to accommodate the flowers. It lacks the abundant supply of milky juice so common in other Milkweeds. The alternating leaves are oblong or lance-shaped, taper to a rather blunt point, and narrow into a rounded or heart-shaped base where they clasp the stalk, or are set on short stems. The midrib is prominent, and the margin is toothless. The numerous small and long, bright orange or rarely yellow flowers are set on slender, light green stems, arranged in one or several loose, flat-topped, terminal clusters, or umbels. The seed pods are more slender than those of the common Milkweed, and only one or two are produced at a time. They have a curiously kinked stem. This Milkweed is found from Maine and Ontario to Minnesota, Florida, Texas, and Arizona.
BUTTERFLY-WEED. Asclepias tuberosa.