This plant is an upright shrubby perennial that 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 traditionally used to produce ointments for the treatment of warts.
Highly attractive to beneficial insects and host plant of several butterflies. Hardy perennial 8-11 or annual in cooler climates.
Other names: Asclepias physocarpa, Gomphocarpus physocarpa, Balloon Plant, Cotton-bush, Oscar, Hairy Balls, Giant Swan Milkweed, Bishop's balls, Family Jewels Plant