Sunday, July 26, 2009


It's so great to spot a number of photos of one of my favorite wild flowers popping up on blogs right now. Milkweed, or asclepias, comes in a lot of different varieties and here on WillOaks Farm, we have the common variety and two colors of "swamp milkweed"-- pink, which is the wild version and white, which I've cultivated in the flower garden.

My love affair with this plant began back in graduate school when I was intent on harvesting its' amazing bast fiber to make a kind of translucent paper reminiscent of spider webs. Later, in Iowa, I discovered a large specimen of the common variety in one of my flower beds...and watched in horror as a whole cluster of monarch larvae devoured the whole plant....but ran out of food to finish their transformation to butterflies!

It was then I learned that in Iowa, milkweed was actively eradicated for being a weed that competed with corn fields...and that the future of a part of the cycle of life for the Monarch butterfly was being interrupted. So....I began to cultivate as much Milkweed as I could get away with and soon became a busy nursery for the Monarch butterfly! It was truly exhilarating and it a whole story in itself for a later time.

Fast forward to WillOaks Farm. There was a lot of wild milkweed growing around the farm when I arrived six years ago and I was privileged to witness a Fall migration of Monarch butterflies through the farm that lasted 2 days...that is a very special treat as they leave the northern areas to winter down in Mexico. Today, I've begun to search for new eggs and new larvae with the hope I can post photos of the whole cycle of life of this magnificent butterfly on a lovely species of do stay tuned!!


RE Ausetkmt said...

I love Milkweed. I was looking at some growing on the side of the freeway; since michigan is cutting less this year due to financial constraints. YEAHHHH.. that means more butterflies.

I cut my butterfly bush yesterday and hopefully it will bloom more fully before the end of the season. the bees were in abundance and that means soon we'll hopefully see a few Flutterbyes.

I think they are the best part of the summer - butterflies and flowers. ahhhhhh,, thats' why I love visiting your blog everyday.

so did you think about my idea to plasticize and embed those beetles to make a few pieces of jewelry. no doubt they would sell like hotcakes.

did you know that somefolks are wearing LIVE beetles on chains as jewelry. might be a market in there really doh !

MamaFlo said...

I really enjoy your floral photos whatever the variety, it makes me smile. I also appreciate the horticulture lesson as I really don't know anything about the flowers I'm looking at.

Pricilla said...

They look like paintings!


But, sadly, milkweed is poisonous to us goats. So I guess that means it is safe!

Poetic Shutterbug said...

I am always in awe of the photos you display. I hardly even can capture a flower closeup without it being focus challenged :) Thanks also for the descriptions and information. Wonderful post.

Lin said...

I raise monarchs here too! I have planted milkweed for them and tagged them for the research being done on their migration. Watch for the tiny little white dot on the underside of the leaf--a sure sign you have caterpillars coming!!

Jenai said...

Oh my Those pics are sublime. I also have been looking at your Etsy bits and am in love with the pearl earrings and necklace. I might be saving up to buy those!


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