A gorgeous wildflower native to western North America, showy milkweed is a host plant for monarch butterflies. Pink and white fragrant flower clusters bloom on two or three foot stalks in mid-summer. Plants often grow in wetland areas with wet winters and dry summers. However, in a garden setting plants need well-drained soil to avoid rotting in winter. This plant spreads by rhizomes and is best planted in full sun in an area where it can spread.
It is also an amazing fiber plant. Historically, flower stalks were processed into cordage and fluffy seed chaff was used to insulate and protect. Seed pods are edible at a certain stage but should only be eaten by experienced foragers. The milky sap that emerges from a wound is toxic to people and animals but easily avoided.