Native to southeast Africa, this upright shrubby is grown as an annual in Kansas and typically grows to 4-6′ tall on stems clad with lanceolate green leaves (to 4″ long). This milkweed family member is perhaps best noted for its soft, spherical, balloon-like, spiny, lime-green seed pods. Showy in the garden, great for butterflies and creative floral arrangements. Pods ripen to tan before splitting open in fall to release large numbers of silky-haired seeds to the wind. White drooping flowers are small, with white hoods and about 1/2″ across.
Gomphocarpus physocarpus is usually listed as one of the most attractive milkweeds to the egg-laying Monarch butterflies. Butterfly gardeners like to have several types of milkweed – variety is the spice of life!