When I was a child I grew up in the country and there were lots of fields filled with weeds. I remember being told that milkweed was, well… a weed. I was encouraged to kill it. After living with the common milkweed in my garden, I can say we should be encouraging it to thrive instead.
Above you see a photo of a Monarch Butterfly resting in front of a small patch of milkweed I have growing in my community garden. It is just one native plant out of many in this garden that encourage wildlife. Milkweed is known as larval food for the Monarch Butterfly and an important nectar source for bees.
Milkweed comes from the Asclepias family and gets its name from the copious white, bitter liquid that flows readily from a wounded plant. Although the pods are edible, milkweed is known to have cardiac glycoside poisons in all parts of the plant. It may cause death when an animal (or human) consumes 1/10 of its body weight or more of any part of the plant.
However, it is truly a wildlife haven for insects such as the Monarch Butterfly, which uses it as a favorite nesting plant and caterpillar food source. Milkweed filaments from the follicles are hollow and coated with wax. They have good insulation qualities and are grown commercially as hypoallergic pillow filling. In nature, birds use the beautiful “fluff” as a nesting product.
Encourage a milkweed plant to grow in your garden and you will have lots of butterflies and bees to pollinate all the other plants. It is a mini-habitat to educate your children and a perfect native plant to encourage more wildlife to come to your garden.
Above you see a group of photos that feature the milkweed pod and plant. This photo is credited from The Garden Grapevine blog – http://www.gardengrapevine.com/Milkweed.html. Thanks for allowing me to show my readers your great photography and detailed milkweed information.