Other names: Bastard Ipecacuana, Bloodflower Milkweed, Cotton Bush, False Ipecac, Madagascar Cotton Bush, Milkweed, Milky Cotton Bush, Red Cotton, Red Head, Red Head Cotton Bush, Red-headed Cottonbush, Scarlet Milkweed, Silkweed, Wallflower Cotton Bush, West Indian Ipecacuana, Wild Ipecac, Wild Ipecacuana, Wild Oleander
Asclepias curassavica, commonly known as tropical milkweed, is a flowering plant species of the milkweed genus, Asclepias. It is native to the American tropics and has a pantropical distribution as an introduced species. Other common names include bloodflower or blood flower, cotton bush, hierba de la cucaracha, Mexican butterfly weed, redhead, scarlet milkweed, and wild ipecacuanha.
It is grown as an ornamental garden plant and as a source of food for butterflies. Notably, it attracts members of the Danainae subfamily, such as the Monarch and the Queen.
Typical plants are evergreen perennial subshrubs that grow up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall and have pale gray stems. The leaves are arranged oppositely on the stems and are lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate shaped ending in acuminate or acute tips. Like other members of the genus, the sap is milky. The flowers are in cymes with 10-20 flowers each. They have purple or red corollas and corona lobes that are yellow or orange. Flowering occurs nearly year round. The 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) long, fusiform shaped fruits are called follicles. The follicles contain tan to brown seeds that are ovate in shape and 6–7 mm (0.24–0.28 in) long. The flat seeds have silky hairs that allow the seeds to float on air currents when the pod-like follicles dehisce (split open). [Wikipedia]
Images: Forest Starr & Kim Starr, CC-BY Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0