University of Minnesota

Photo Details

(Photo: Gillian Tuttle)

Milkweed Tree with Monarchs

Gillian Tuttle found this plant with monarchs in three different stages on a single leaf during a winter 2004 trip to Puerto Rico. Gary Stell and Chip Taylor tentatively identified the plant as either the Giant Milkweed Tree or Gigantic swallow-wort (Calotropis gigantea) or Swallow-wort (Calotropis procera). Both species are in the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae) and are native to India but have spread to the Caribbean. They grow to 4 meters (C. gigantea) or 2 meters (C. procera) tall and produce white or lavender flowers. Each tree when fully grown can support hundreds of monarch larvae.

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