Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Concerning Milkweed

Some weeks back, I posted about common roadside weeds.  Aside from the feeling that I should have included Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum), it seemed that more could be said about the unique Milkweed Plant (Asclepias syriaca).  A walk alongside Milkweed plants both flowering and with seed pods recently convinced me that I should do exactly that.

File:Asclepias syriaca.jpg
The Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a rather distintive plant if ever there was one. The pinkish ball-shaped flower bundle, the round-wide leaves, and the rather milk sap.

File:Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca Plant 2000px.jpg

The seed pods, which one might be able to find this time of year, are quite distincitve, as the following photo demonstrates:


The Milkweed is also interesting for the several species of insect that rely exclusively or primarily on this plant for food and shelter. These include the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus), the Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetraophtalmus), Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus).

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Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) caterpillar.

File:Tetraopes tetrophthalmus-1.jpg
Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetraophtalmus)

Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus).

The Milkweed's genus name is in honor of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing.

The genus also includes the rather splendid, and notably orange, Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa):

File:Butterfly Weed Whole Flowering Plant 1676px.jpg

These sites give a bit more information about this noble weed:

I have even found a short video, though a bit corny, on the Milkweed.  Enjoy:

Live well!

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