Flowers: regular; gamopetalous; growing in umbel-like clusters,and showing the distinctive features of the milkweed family, see A. incarnata, page 76. Pods: two, which burst open and let fly seeds with beautiful silky tufts. Leaves: alternate; lanceolate; pubescent. Stem: one to two feet high; erect; branched near the summit; hairy and containing very little milky juice.
Perhaps this is one of the most brilliant plants, not excluding those of the tropics, of our country. The soft air of midsummer plays upon it as it lightens the dry fields, and the tuneful harmony is one of blending tints of orange and red. It is the only northern one of the genus with so much yellow mixed in its colouring. One rarely sees it without a gay band of butterflies hovering about, and it is very possible that from this fact it has received one of its English names.
The Indians made use of it in many ways; principally by extracting a sugar-like substance from the flowers. The roots have been believed to be a cure for pleurisy. The plant is also called wind-root and orange-root.