Monarch Butterfly

- Milkweed and - Nectar Plants native to Nebraska
 Antelope-horns Milkweed 
(Asclepias asperula)

Also known as Spider Milkweed, this perennial is clump-forming with stems that are densely covered with minute hairs. As the green seed pods grow, they curve to resemble antelope horns. It has pale, greenish-yellow flowers, tinged maroon that bloom March to October.

Growing Conditions: Needs sunlight, dry or moist soil, medium water use

Plant Size: 1-2 ft (30-60 cm) tall

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(Asclepias tuberosa)

Host plant for monarch caterpillars and excellent nectar plant for adults. Very showy flowers. Prefers dry soils and full sun.

Description:  Sometimes called Orange Milkweed, this perennial has large, flat-topped clusters of yellow-orange or bright-orange flowers and blooms May to September.

Growing Conditions: Needs sunlight, drought tolerant, dry or moist soil

Plant Size:  1-2 ft (30-60 cm)

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 Common Milkweed
(Asclepias syriaca)

Host plant for monarch caterpillars and excellent nectar plant for adults. Fragrant flowers. Thrives in a wide range of soils.

This tall perennial has large balls of pink or purplish flowers that have an attractive odor. The flowers bloom from June to August.

Growing Conditions: Shade intolerant, needs lots of sunlight, moist soil

Plant Size:  Usually 3-5 feet (90-150 cm), sometimes reaching 8 feet (240 cm) in ditches and gardens

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 Purple Milkweed
(Asclepias purpurascens )

The milky juice from this perennial is known to remove warts. The flowers are deep magenta red and bloom May to July.

Growing Conditions: Needs sunlight and dry soil

Plant Size: 2-4 ft (61 to 122 cm)

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 Showy Milkweed 
(Asclepias speciosa )

Monarch caterpillar host plant.

This perennial has large, oval, blue-green leaves and spherical clusters of rose-colored flowers. The flowers occur at the top of the stem and on stalks from leaf axils and bloom May to September.

Growing Conditions: Shade intolerant, needs sunlight, medium water use, moist soil

Plant Size: Generally 1 ½ – 3 ft (46 – 91 cm) but can reach 6 ft (183 cm) under favorable conditions

This species is closely related to the Common milkweed, A. syriaca, with which it sometimes hybridizes at the eastern limits of its distribution. These species are similar in appearance and growth form (tall and robust), but can be distinguished by the layer of fine white hairs on A. speciosa and flowers that look like small crowns. Unlike A. syriaca, A. speciosa does not form large clones.

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 Spider Milkweed
(Asclepias viridis)

Monarch caterpillar host plant.

Also known as Green Antelopehorn Milkweed, this perennial has white flowers – mostly one per plant and lacks the “horns” seen on Antelopehorn Milkwed. These milkweeds bloom from May to August.

Growing Conditions: Needs sunlight, cold and heat tolerant, moist soil, low water use

Plant Size: Matures to 4 ft (122 cm) in height

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 Swamp Milkweed 
(Asclepias incarnata )

Monarch caterpillar host plant.

Also known as Pink Milkweed, this perennial has large blossoms composed of small, rose-purple flowers. The deep pink flowers are clustered at the top of a tall, branching stem and bloom June to October.

Growing Conditions: Needs lots of water, shade tolerant, moist to wet soil

Plant Size: 2-5 ft (60-152 cm)

The juice of this wetland milkweed is less milky than that of other species. The genus was named in honor of Aesculapius, Greek god of medicine, undoubtedly because some species have long been used to treat a variety of ailments. The Latin species name means flesh-colored.

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 Whorled milkweed
(Asclepias verticillata)

Monarch caterpillar host plant and exceptional nectar plant. This small milkweed plant is great for landscaping. Dry soils.

This single-stemmed perennial has narrow, linear leaves whorled along the stem. Small, greenish-white flowers occur in flat-topped clusters on the upper part of the stem and bloom May to September.

Growing Conditions: Low water use, moderately shade tolerant, dry soil

Plant Size: 1-3 ft (30- 91 cm)

Because of its toxicity to livestock, this plant is considered a weed in range areas.

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 Grass-leaved goldenrod
(Euthamia graminifolia)

Attracts many species of bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, and beetles. Rhizomatous and very vigorous.

The 1-4 ft., branched stems, bearing long, narrow, grass-like leaves, are topped by flat, open clusters of small, yellow flowers. Flat-top goldentop spreads by rhizomes to form colonies.

The flat-topped floral arrangement and narrow leaves of this Goldenrod are distinctive. Slender Fragrant Goldenrod (E. caroliniana) has grass-like leaves with tiny resin dots and only one rib or vein.

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 Heath aster
(Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Very abundant small flowers attract pre-hibernation bumble bee queens and other insects. Blooms late into fall. Very easy to grow.

Heath Aster is a member of the aster family (family Asteraceae), which includes herbs, sometimes shrubs or vines, rarely trees, with simple or compound, alternate or opposite leaves. Flowers small, but organized into larger heads resembling a single, radially symmetrical flower cupped by a ring of green bracts.

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 Hoary vervain
(Verbena stricta)

Important nectar source for butterflies. Host plant for common buckeye butterfly. Long bloom period from July to Sept.

The 1-4 ft., hairy stem produces a terminal cluster of narrow, flowering spikes. Small lavender flowers appear in a ring halfway down the acsending spike. A common invader of overgrazed pastures, this plant does not compete well in vigorous stands of native grasses. Seeds are consumed by small mammals and prairie-chickens.

This species is a member of the verbena family (family Verbenaceae), which includes about 75 genera and 3,000 species of herbs, shrubs, and trees, mostly of tropical and warm temperate regions. Among them, teak is a highly prized furniture wood, and Vervain, Lantana, Lippia or Frog Fruit, and Chase Tree or Vitex are grown as ornamentals.

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 Prairie ironweed
(Vernonia fasciculata)

A showy plant great for backdrops in landscaping. Brilliant purple flowers. Can be aggressive in small areas.

The stout, unbranched, 2-5 ft. stems bears numerous lance-shaped, coarsely-toothed, dark-green leaves. Attractive floral sprays are composed of densely clustered, rose-purple flowers.

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 Smooth blue aster
(Symphyotrichum laeve)

A lovely plant, more delicate in stature than many asters. Larval host plant of the pearl crescent butterfly.

A smooth-leaved perennial bearing flower heads with many rich lavender-blue rays surrounding a yellow central disk; stem with a light grayish-white bloom.

One of the most attractive blue asters, this species has bright green foliage that is very smooth to the touch.

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 Stiff sunflower
(Helianthus pauciflorus)

A lovely plant, attractive to a wide variety of solitary bees. Can crowd out other plants in small areas.

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 Tall thistle
(Cirsium altissimum)

Not to be confused with exotic thistles, this non-aggressive native thistle is an absolute monarch magnet. Biennial.

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 White prairie clover
(Dalea candida)

A small-statured nitrogen fixing legume. Very attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant.

Often occuring in patches, these perennials bear at least 8-10 slender, 1-2 ft. stems and groups of short, narrow leaflets. Tiny, individual flowers cluster around a cylinder-like cone. The bright, white flowers start as a ring around the base of the cone and work upward as the season advances.

Like other members of the pea family, this plant requires the presence of microorganisms that inhabit nodules on the plants root system and produce nitrogen compounds necessary for the plants survival.

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 White snakeroot
(Ageratina altissima)

Prefers moist soils but tolerates dry. Very shade tolerant. Attracts a variety of butterflies.

Solitary or clustered firm stems bear flat-topped clusters of small fuzzy white flower heads composed entirely of disk flowers.

This plant used to be placed in the genus Eupatorium, as did Smaller White Snakeroot (A. aromatica), a nonaromatic plant despite its name; it has less coarsely toothed leaves, the upper ones stalkless. Other similar species are Late-flowering Thoroughwort (Eupatorium serotinum), which has long-stalked lanceolate leaves with 3-5 main veins, and Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort (E. hyssopifolium), with very narrow leaves in whorls of 3-4.

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 Wholeleaf rosinweed
(Silphium integrifolium)

Great for landscaping?shorter and sturdier than other Silphium species. Attracts solitary bees and other pollinators.

A coarse perennial, 2-6 ft. tall with large, yellow composite flowers and rough, paired, oval to lance-shaped leaves.

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