Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why It’s Called Milkweed

The Milkweed is, as readers of this blog must know, the favorite breeding ground of the Monarch butterfly. We aspire to raise the Monarch, hence our interest in milkweed.  We bought our first specimen in a pot (reported here last July); the plant was not yet feeling at home and the Fall brought no changes at all, even after replanting. This year has been different. I show here the first budding of its flowers, here the flower opened and the earliest pods that the milkweed produces.

After returning from our mini-vacation, Brigitte came running from her first inspection of our garden. Our milkweed pods had aged enough, dried out enough, and they had opened! We got home just in time. Herewith a sequence of pictures, all taken this morning—showing late-arising pods, pods not yet opened, and two pictures of the finished product displaying their seeds. They’re ready to open their wings to the next good wind. Those seeds are quite startling—and tells us why this plant, essentially green-on-green all of the Spring and Summer, is called the milkweed.

The third picture shows in some detail the orderly arrangement of the seeds after the pod opens, the fine white bundles of soft hair that will act to transport them by air, and the dried-out outer covering of the pods, still light or dark-green in the photos above. The last picture, using a different angle, highlights the dominant color of this end-stage: milk-white.


  1. Growing up, I remember lots of milkweed and monarch butterflies. I'm not out much anymore. Are they still around?

    1. So far this year we've not seen a single one around here, but our daughter reports seeing one...

  2. I let the milkweed grow this year. They did so luxuriantly, and produced prodigious pods that made me think of The Day Of The Triffids.


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