I forgot about an article I had read on the effort to rescue the Monarch butterflies from extinction. Setting the Table for a Regal Butterfly Comeback, With Milkweed by Michael Wines in The New York Times on 12/20 may be old news but it is still good news for pollinators, and the Monarchs specifically. It would be very interesting to see wild native flowers growing in the divided area of the highways and along the road again.
The Common Milkweeds (Asclepias syriaca) in our garden grew by themselves, probably from seeds that the wind dropped off. I let them grow and flower. To my surprise, the flowers are fragrant and the honeybees love them. I never thought that they were fragrant as the varieties of Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), its relative, I have grown have no scent. Now, I have even more incentive to grow them, not just ignore them, in the garden.
For gardeners who like to help the Monarch butterfly by growing Milkweed, please note that:
- They are easy to grow, but hard to get rid of. Their shoots can sprout up in unlikely places.
- All parts of the plant are toxic.
- The ‘milk’ liquid that oozes out of a broken part of the plant can cause skin irritation.
Aside from the down side, they are drought tolerant, fragrant, and bees and butterflies love them. The shoots are also edible, when extremely careful and well cooked. Here’s a short photo profile of this beautiful weed…
Below are Butterfly weeds (Asclepias tuberosa), it’s relative. They come in very bright colorful colors of yellow, orange and red. They’re much shorter than the Common milkweed but branch out, not just one straight stalk. Butterflies, bees and ants love them.