Common name: Ngô thị
English name: Scarlet Milkweed
Latin name: Asclepias curassavica L.
Trung Khanh area, Cao Bang province, Vietnam
photo by anhtai - BVN member
Asclepias curassavica, commonly called Mexican Butterfly Weed, Blood-flower or Scarlet Milkweed, is a species of evergreen perennial plant in the milkweed family Asclepiadaceae. This species is native from tropical America and now naturalized in many other parts of the world and now found worldwide in tropical areas. It is grown as an ornamental garden plant and as a source of food for butterflies.
Typical plants are evergreen perennial subshrub that grow up to 1 m 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. The flowers are in Cymes with 10-20 flowers each. The flowers have corollas that are purple or red and Corona lobes that are yellow or orange. The 5 to 10 cm long, fusiform shaped fruits are called follicles. The follicles contain tan to brown seeds that are ovate in shape and 6-7mm long. Plants flower nearly year round. Plants have a milky sap like most members of the genus. The flat seeds have silky hairs that allow the seeds to float on air currents when the pod-like follicles split open.
There are a number of different cultivars with improved flower colors and shorter habit, some have brilliant red, yellow or orange colored flowers. Asclepias curassavica is excellent in butterfly gardens or as a cut flower.