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Tuesday - May 20, 2014

From: Cape May Court House , NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Pests, Poisonous Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Will Canada geese eat Asclepias tuberosa from Cape May Court, NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Will Canada geese eat my butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)? I know this plant is deer resistant. I really want to plant some on sandy bank near pond in my back yard, but I fear the geese will eat it since this variety does not contain the high quantity of milky sap that other milkweeds have.


Not unless they are really dumb geese. From our webpage on Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed):

"Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Roots, plant sap from all parts. Not edible. Toxic only if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms include vomiting, stupor, weakness, spasms. Toxic Principle: Resinoid, cardiac glycoside. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)"

This is a property that makes milkweeds valuable to butterflies, or more specifically, the caterpillars which are the butterfly children. The caterpillar is able to feed on the sap of the milkweed and transmit that poisonous trait to the butterflies, which then taste really bad to the birds that try to eat them.

We then went hunting for specific information on whether geese would eat milkweed. To be honest, we never found any specific information on a plant they would NOT eat, but on the other hand, we never found any information saying that they considered Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) to be a gourmet food.

From Ask.com, What Do Geese Eat?

"Geese are herbivores, which mean that they eat only plant products. They eat grass, grain, wheat, beans, corn, and rice. They also eat plants that grow around lakes and bodies of water."

From Native Plants Wildlife Gardens Help Monarchs with the Right Milkweeds. From  previous Mr. Smarty Plants question What Plants will Ducks and Geese Not Eat?


From the Image Gallery

Asclepias tuberosa

Asclepias tuberosa

Asclepias tuberosa

Asclepias tuberosa

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