En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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


Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Transplanting butterfly weed in Hamden OH
July 10, 2009 - I have tried transplanting butterfly weed from it's native location to my yard and each time the plant wilts and dies. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Butterfly and Hummingbird Attracting Plants for CT
April 15, 2015 - Could you please give me a list of flowers that would attract butterflies and hummingbirds? I live in Darien, Connecticut and would love to make a butterfly garden.
view the full question and answer

Native plants for butterfly garden in Waco, TX
February 03, 2008 - Few weeks ago I sent you a letter but never got an answer back. I would like to have your suggestions of native plants for a butterfly garden (30'x 30') here in Waco. The plants must be (1)drought ...
view the full question and answer

Flowers for monarch butterflies in Bastrop, Gonzales and Travis Counties of Texas
March 05, 2013 - Hi Mr./s. Smarty Plants, What are some flowers that grow naturally on a Bastrop, Travis, or Gonzales county riverside that monarch butterflies commonly feed on? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Hummingbird and butterfly plants for Idaho
May 04, 2010 - I'm interested in planting a hummingbird and butterfly friendly garden. What do you suggest? I would like something that will rebloom every year and that has long lasting blooms or some different one...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center