Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly milkweed

recently added

Papilio polyxenes, black swallowtail

Added 1/20/2019: Black swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes.

Desmanthus illinoensis, Illinois bundleflower

Added 12/23/2018: Illinois bundleflower, Desmanthus illinoensis.

Sayornis phoebe, eastern phoebe

Added 12/20/2018: Eastern phoebe, Sayornis phoebe.

Juniperus virginiana, eastern redcedar

Added 11/25/2018: Eastern redcedar, Juniperus virginiana.

Lycogala epidendrum, wolf's milk slime mold

Added 11/17/2018: Wolf's milk slime mold, Lycogala epidendrum.

Cirsium pitcheri, dune thistle

Added 7/31/2018: Dune thistle, Cirsium pitcheri.

Vitis riparia, riverbank grape

Added 7/19/2018: Riverbank grape, Vitis riparia.

Podophyllum peltatum, mayapple

Added 5/1/2018: Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum.

Allodus podophylli, mayapple rust

Added 5/1/2018: Mayapple rust, Allodus podophylli.

Phalacrocorax auritus, double-crested cormorant

Added 4/21/2018: Double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus.

Conium maculatum, poison hemlock

Added 4/17/2018: Poison hemlock, Conium maculatum.

Fuligo septica, dog vomit slime mold

Added 4/13/2018: Dog vomit slime mold, Fuligo septica.

Sonchgus oleraceus, common sowthistle

Added 12/20/2017: Common sowthistle, Sonchus oleraceus.

Sonchgus asper, prickly sowthistle

Added 12/20/2017: Prickly sowthistle, Sonchus asper.

Added 10/20/2017: Rough-leaved dogwood, Cornus drummondii.

Added 10/8/2017: Painted turtle, Chrysemys picta.

Added 9/25/2017: Jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum.

Added 9/18/2017: Tar spot of maple, Rhytisma americanum, is a harmless parasite.

Added 9/18/2017: Red maple, Acer rubrum, displays red in every season.

Added 9/18/2017: Silver maple, Acer saccharinum, has distinctive leaves.

Added 9/9/2017: The monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, is a Midwestern icon.

Added 9/9/2017: Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca hosts diverse insects.

Added 8/23/2017: The American robin, Turdus migratorius, has an unfortunate scientific name.

Added 8/22/2017: Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, makes amazing berries in late summer.

Added 8/12/2017: The wood duck, Aix sponsa, is an unmistakeable bird.

Added 7/21/2017: The brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater, lays its eggs in the nests of other birds!

Added 7/21/2017: Eastern cottonwood, Populus deltoides, is a towering riparian tree.

Added 7/20/2017: The widow skimmer, Libellula luctuosa, is a common sight near water.

Added 7/19/2017: Butterfly milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa, has deep orange flowers.

Added 7/19/2017: Dogbane, Apocynum cannabinum, is common throughout the Midwest.


Pictured above are the flowers of Asclepias tuberosa, known as "butterfly weed" or "butterfly milkweed." As its common names suggest, it is a favorite of monarchs and other butterflies, appearing in summer throughout the Midwest. It is easily identified by its gorgeous orange flowers and its alternating, narrowly oblong, pointed leaves.

Midwestnaturalist.com is the creation of Michael and Melissa Kuo, and our son, Will. We are not biologists (Michael is an English teacher, and Melissa is a banker), and we're definitely not professional photographers—but we love learning about the outdoors. If you have a question or a comment, please feel free to contact us at .

The Midwest is large and diverse, containing many different ecosystems. We are based in central Illinois, where the corn and soybean fields stretch to the horizons and the woods (primarily oak-hickory and cottonwood-sycamore forests) follow rivers and un-tillable land. In the northern Midwest, however, ecosystems range from beech-maple woods to cedar swamps and sub-boreal forests (among others), while in the southern Midwest one can find southern forest ecosystems and, in Kentucky and southern Ohio, Appalachian ecosystems, famous for their natural diversity. That's a lot to cover—but we love to travel, explore, and learn!

The information at our site is based on our own observations, with reference to an ever-growing collection of online and printed source material (see our references page) that we rely on for help with identifications and context.

Edibility and toxicity are not a primary focus for us; we think nature is much more engaging, important, and interesting than figuring out what happens to humans when they pass its organisms through their digestive systems. We will mention toxicity when it is reported by our sources, and edibility when we have actually tried eating whatever it is, but you should definitely consult a different source if your interests are culinary.


map of the Midwest

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     Acer rubrum—(red maple)
     Acer saccharinum—(silver maple)

Aix sponsa—(wood duck)

Allodus podophylli—(mayapple rust)

American robin—(Turdus migratorius)

Aphis nerii—(oleander aphid)

Apocynum cannabinum—(dogbane)

Arisaema triphyllum—(Jack-in-the-pulpit)

     Asclepias syriaca—(common milkweed)
     Asclepias tuberosa—(butterfly milkweed / butterfly weed)

Black swallowtail—(Papilio polyxenes)

Brown-headed cowbird—(Molothrus ater)

     Illinois bundleflower—(Desmanthus illinoensis)

Butterfly milkweed / butterfly weed—(Asclepias tuberosa)

     eastern redcedar—(Juniperus virginiana)

Chrysemys picta—(painted turtle)

Chrysochus auratus—(dogbane beetle)

Cirsium pitcheri—(dune thistle)

Conium maculatum—(poison hemlock)

Contact—Please feel free to contact us at .

     double-crested cormorant—(Phalacrocorax auritus)

Cornus drummondii—(rough-leaved dogwood)

Cottonwood—(Populus deltoides)

Cycnia inopinatus—(unexpected Cycnia)

Danaus plexippus—(monarch butterfly)

Desmanthus illinoensis—(Illinois bundleflower)

Dog vomit slime mold—(Fuligo septica)

Dogbane—(Apocynum cannabinum)

Dogbane beetle—(Chrysochus auratus)

     rough-leaved dogwood—(Cornus drummondii)

Dune thistle—(Cirsium pitcheri)

Eastern Phoebe—(Sayornis phoebe)

Euchaetes egle—(milkweed tiger moth)

Fuligo spetica—(dog vomit slime mold)

     riverbank grape—(Vitis riparia)


Illinois bundleflower—(Desmanthus illinoensis)

Jack-in-the-pulpit—(Arisaema triphyllum)

Jack-in-the-pulpit rust—(Uromyces ari-triphylli)

Juniperus virginiana—(eastern redcedar)

Large milkweed bug—(Oncopeltus fasciatus)

Libellula luctuosa—(widow skimmer)

Limenitis archippus—(viceroy butterfly)

Lycogala epidendrum—(wolf's milk slime mold)

Lycogala flavofuscum—(slime mold)

     red maple—(Acer rubrum)
     silver maple—(Acer saccharinum)

Mayapple—(Podophyllum peltatum)

Mayapple rust—(Allodus podophylli)

     butterfly milkweed / butterfly weed—(Asclepias tuberosa)
     common milkweed—(Asclepias syriaca)

Milkweed tiger moth—(Euchaetes egle)

Molothrus ater—(brown-headed cowbird)

Monarch butterfly—(Danaus plexippus)

Oleander aphid—(Aphis nerii)

Oncopeltus fasciatus—(large milkweed bug)

Painted turtle—(Chrysemys picta ater)

Papilio polyxenes—(black swallowtail)

Phalacrocorax auritus—(double-crested cormorant)

Phoebe—(Sayornis phoebe)

Phytolacca americana—(pokeweed)

Podophyllum peltatum—(mayapple)

Poison hemlock—(Conium maculatum)

Pokeweed—(Phytolacca americana)

Populus deltoides—(eastern cottonwood)

Red milkweed beetle—(Tetraopes tertophthalmus)

References — List of resources consulted and/or cited

Rhytisma americanum—(tar spot of maple)

Robin—(Turdus migratorius)

Sayornis phoebe—(eastern phoebe)

Slime mold:
     dog vomit slime mold—(Fuligo septica)
     (no common name)—(Lycogala flavofuscum)
     wolf's milk slime mold—(Lycogala epidendrum)

     Sonchus asper—(prickly sowthistle)
     Sonchus oleraceus—(common sowthistle)

     common sowthistle—(Sonchus oleraceus)
     prickly sowthistle—(Sonchus asper)

     black swallowtail—(Papilio_polyxenes)

Tar spot of maple—(Rhytisma americanum)

Tetraopes tetrophthalmus—(red milkweed beetle)

Turdus migratorius—(American robin)

Unexpected Cycnia—(Cycnia inopinatus)

Uromyces ari-triphylli—(Jack-in-the-pulpit rust)

Viceroy butterfly—(Limenitis archippus)

Vitis riparia—(riverbank grape)

Widow skimmer—(Libellula luctuosa)

Wolf's milk slime mold—(Lycogala epidendrum)

Wood duck—(Aix sponsa)

Kuo, Michael & Melissa Kuo (2019). Midwestnaturalist.com homepage. Retrieved from the midwestnaturalist.com website: www.midwestnaturalist.com/index.html

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