asclepias tuberose. The name Butterfly Weed comes from the butterflies that are attracted to the plant by its color and its copious production of nectar. Butterfly weed is also the larval food plant of the Queen butterfly. It is a species of milkweed native to eastern North America, and a perennial. It contains a cardiac glycoside that is toxic to a lot of insects. Butterflies that feed on the nectar and pollinates the plant. The toxin will pass from the caterpillar will contain some of this and keep it as a butterfly. Any bird eating one will become sick and learn not to eat them
Butterfly Weed is also known as Pleurisy root. It is named for its use by native Americans and settlers to treat pleurisy, which is inflammation of the membranes that line the chest and cover the lungs. A very painful condition, pleurisy causes fluid accumulation in the chest. Because chemicals in pleurisy root may reduce the thickness of mucus and encourage coughing, it may have helped to relieve pleurisy and other respiratory conditions such as bronchitis. In addition, pleurisy root contains chemicals that may increase sweating, so it also may have helped to lower fever associated with infective diseases. Today, the medical uses of pleurisy root largely have been replaced by prescription and non-prescription drugs that are more effective.
Pleurisy root is known to contain chemicals that act like female hormones in the body. It has been used in folk medicine both to start late menstrual periods and to cause abortions. If it is taken during pregnancy, a miscarriage is possible. Pregnant women should not take pleurisy root.
Some Native American legends tell of the roots being used as a body wash for lifting and running strength. Also used as a drug in chant lotion, and as a ceremonial emetic. A ceremony is connected with the obtaining and distribution of this highly valued root.