Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

One of several milkweeds occurring in Michigan, this milkweed species is our most common. The dense round clusters of dull purple flowers have an extremely sweet fragrance and produce abundant nectar, attracting a wide variety of pollinators, among them the large and striking monarch butterfly. Milkweed plays a critical role in the life cycle of the monarch, serving as the preferred host plant for its conspicuously black and yellow striped larvae and for the green chrysalis rimmed with gold dots attached to the bottom of a leaf. Because of the abundance of milkweed on Michigan's coastal dunes, the dunes form an important migration pathway for this beautiful butterfly.