California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Gomphocarpus physocarpus * Family Jewels, Hairy Balls

Gomphocarpus physocarpus is a milkweed relative from South Africa where it is a host plant for the African Monarch. The former name was Asclepias physocarpa. In most places Gomphocarpus pysocarpus will be a late Summer blooming annual, but in warmer gardens it can overwinter, often coming back from the roots. Flowers are white with purple centers. Plant in Full Sun. In addition to the Monarch Butterfly Gomphocarpus physocarpus is a nector source for the Gray Hairstreak, Common Buckeye, Hedgerow Hairstreak, California Common Ringlet, Giant Swallowtail, Great Purple Hairstreak, Acmon Blue. Gomphocarpus physocarpus can take some drought but will look much better and recover far more readily with a reasonable water diet particularly. Gomphocarpus physocarpus can grow to 4-5 feet tall and wide. The tops will die back with any significant frost but these African milkweed plants are potentially root hardy through frost.

Gomphocarpus physocarpus, Family Jewels, Hairy Balls

Hairy fruit of Gomphocarpus physocarpus the Family Jewels or Hairy Balls. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.

Tarantula Hawks, Carpenter Bees and Yellow Faced Bumblebees feeding on nectar from Asclepias eriocarpa, Woollypod Milkweed. Milkweeds are important to so much more wildlife beyond butterflies. High resolution videos are part of our garden image collection.

Plants from the old Asclepidacea Family featured on this site. This is now considered a subfamily in the Apocynaceae Family or Dogbane Family. This is relevant because these plants are nectar and caterpillar food for the Monarch Butterflies:
Asclepias angustifolia * Arizona Milkweed
Asclepias californica * California Milkweed
Asclepias cordifolia * Purple Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica * Tropical Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica Red Butterflies * Red Butterflies Tropical Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica Silky Gold * Silky Gold Tropical Milkweed
Asclepias eriocarpa * Woollypod Milkweed, Indian Milkweed, Kotolo Milkweed
Aslepias erosa * Desert Milkweed
Asclepias fascicularis * Narrow Leaf Milkweed
Asclepias linaria * Pine Needle Milkweed
Asclepias speciosa * Showy Milkweed
Asclepias subulata * Rush Milkweed, Skeleton Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa * Butterfly Weed
Other milkweed relatives:
Araujia sericifera * Bladder Vine, Cruel Vine, Moth Vine
Gomphocarpus fruticosus * Swan Milkweed, Narrow Leaf Cotton Plant
Gomphocarpus physocarpus * Family Jewels, Hairy Balls
Hoya carnosa * Wax Vine