Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Butterfly weed occurs in open, dry habitats throughout the eastern US, and is common in most Florida scrubs. It's a herbaceous perennial that sprouts back in spring from a large underground tuber. Butterfly weed is the only milkweed that doesn't have opposite leaves and doesn't have milky sap. Flower color ranges from yellow-orange to red, and the striking bright red flowers of this specimen caught the photographer's eye as he was driving by a scrub in Polk County. Butterflies sip nectar from this and other milkweed flowers, and the caterpillars of several butterfly species, including the migratory monarch, feed on the foliage. Butterfly weed is often planted in the home landscape to attract butterflies, and is available from many nurseries.