Conservation // 2 min Read

Gardening for Nature: Milkweeds

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Sep 10, 2020

Beaufort County is home to roughly a dozen species of milkweed, three of which have been documented growing wild at Palmetto Bluff.

The genus Asclepias earned the common name “milkweed” from the sticky, milky-white substance that is excreted from broken parts of the plant. This substance is toxic if ingested by people and dogs, but monarch butterfly caterpillars have adapted to consume the leaves and toxins found within this plant. In return, their diet makes the young monarchs unpalatable to birds and other predators. However, monarch populations have been in decline, as a result of a loss of habitat and loss of milkweed. This downward trend in monarch sightings and the joy people experience from watching them flit around the garden has inspired many homeowners to plant milkweed in their flower beds. This unique addition to the garden provides food for both the caterpillars and the adults.

The efforts to attract monarchs and help their population has increased the availability of some species of milkweed at local nurseries. Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is one of the most common species sold in the Southeast, while common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is more prominent in northern plant nurseries. Other species commonly sold at nurseries include whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).

There is one more species of milkweed that has become commonplace at nurseries, and it is known as tropical milkweed or blood flower (Asclepias curassavica). This species, native to Central and South America, has become highly popular in North America due to its more evergreen behavior and ease of cultivation. However, this has been connected with an increase in monarchs becoming non-migratory and staying year-round in places with an abundance of tropical milkweed. It has also been linked to some monarch pathogens becoming more prevalent as the pathogens would typically die back with the plants in winter, but this is not the case with tropical milkweed. The easiest and best solution is to plant native species, as these plants will die back close to winter, killing the pathogens along with them, and the monarchs will be more inclined to migrate.

Residents of Beaufort County may be interested in planting any of the following native species of milkweed:

• Aquatic Milkweed (Asclepias perennis)

• Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) – documented at Palmetto Bluff

• Carolina Milkweed (Asclepias cinerea)

• Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) – documented at Palmetto Bluff

• Fewflower Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata)

• Longleaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia)

• Michaux’s Milkweed (Asclepias michauxii)

• Pineland Milkweed (Asclepias obovata)

• Pinewoods Milkweed (Asclepias humistrata) – documented at Palmetto Bluff

• Savannah Milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata)

• Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

• Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)


Food & Wine / Fall Recipes From Buffalos

Your Pine-ness Cocktail Recipe Before delving into the ingredients and recipe for Buffalos’ delectable Ricotta Meatballs and Sauce, it is imperative that the chef has an excellent cocktail for cooking. Pairing the sweetness of pineapple with the woody flavo...

Sep 2023
palmetto bluff neighborhoods

Real Estate / Waterfront Neighborhoods in Palmetto Bluff

Coastal Palmetto Bluff Neighborhoods Palmetto Bluff, a private community nestled along the South Carolina coastline, presents a harmonious blend of luxurious living, recreational spaces, and a vibrant atmosphere. The meticulously designed Palmetto Bluff neigh...

Sep 2023
wilson landing

Waterways / Behind the Bluff with Marina Captain: Thomas Shanahan

Meet Captain Tom of Palmetto Bluff’s Wilson Landing  In the tranquil embrace of Bluffton's Lowcountry, where rivers wind their way through nature's masterpiece, an extraordinary tale unfolds at Wilson Landing of Palmetto Bluff. The story belongs to Captain Th...

Sep 2023
luxury kitchen design

Architecture & Design / Designing the Southern Kitchen of Your Dreams

Your Guide to a Luxury Kitchen Design The kitchen has long been the heart of the home, where cherished memories are cooked up and shared. When it comes to Lowcountry living, a well-designed kitchen is not just a place to prepare meals but a space that encapsu...

Sep 2023
summer bucket list

Culture / Summer Activities to Check Off Your List Before the Fall

10 Activities You Have to Cross Off Your Summer Bucket List While the days are long and the sun hangs high in the sky, summer offers a golden opportunity to create lasting memories and partake in a variety of thrilling activities. Before the cooler breeze of ...

Sep 2023

Conservation / Water Way

Palmetto Bluff is an ecological wonderland, with its maritime forest and tidal rivers, its salt marsh and abundant wildlife. But perhaps one of the most unique features of this wedge of Lowcountry is the impressive inland waterway that wends through the landsc...

Aug 2023

Artist in Residence / Places Around Palmetto Bluff to Paint Plein Air

Plein Air Painting and Our August Artist in Residence Palmetto Bluff is a paradise for art enthusiasts and nature lovers alike with its breathtaking landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and serene atmosphere. With that being said, the Bluff is the perfect canvas f...

Aug 2023
coastal living

Waterways / Experience Health and Happiness By Living on the Coast

5 Health Benefits of Coastal Living Did you know that life by the coast is not only the most idyllic way to live, but it also improves your health? All in all, coastal living is a rejuvenating experience for the mind, body, and soul. From the cool, salty bree...

Aug 2023
south carolina lowcountry

Culture / 9 Enticing Facts About the Lowcountry

Discover the Charm of the South Carolina Lowcountry Where history and nature intertwine with effortless grace, the South Carolina Lowcountry is a region that allures visitors and residents alike with its timeless beauty, enchanting landscapes, and diverse cul...

Aug 2023

Conservation / Behind the Bluff with Palmetto Bluff Conservancy Educator: Aaron Palmieri

Aaron’s Journey to the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy   In the heart of the Lowcountry, where lush landscapes and diverse ecosystems flourish, lies a hidden gem known as Palmetto Bluff. This breathtaking sanctuary serves as a haven for an array of wildlife, offer...

Aug 2023
Community Villages
Palmetto Bluff Club
On The Water
The Arts Initiative
About Us