The Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) was a familiar sight in the Missouri Ozarks. Between mowing and spraying herbicide this beautiful plant has become more scarce.
This particular milkweed can grow very large (up to 6 1/2 feet tall). The profuse flowers vary from pinkish to purplish in color. The coveted Monarch Butterfly caterpillars are the chief consumer of the leaves and stems. The caterpillars prefer the more tender newer smaller leaves.
The Great Spangled Fritillary adores this plant! Today I counted 20 butterflies on one plant!
It is an amazing spectacle to see how the Fritillaries covet this “common” plant!
Do yourself a favor and plant as many of these special plants to perpetuate the threatened Monarch Butterfly and enjoy a truly beautiful perennial plant!
Kathy, a friend at work, dug up three native plants of Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) from her farm. They were given to me to transplant on my property. The Purple Milkweed will be used to attract the Monarch butterfly. The plant itself is the larval food for the Monarch.
These hardy perennials flower from late May through July. The flowers are adored by many different species of butterflies and moths. I have observed butterflies waiting their turn to enjoy the nectar from these unusual flowers. Monarch numbers are decreasing which makes the planting of milkweed essential. Monarch populations have decreased by 90%. All the more reason to plant milkweed on your property!! Indiscriminate use of herbicide and mowing of roadsides has eliminated much needed plantings of milkweed. A 3′ x 3′ planting of milkweed will go a long way to help the beautiful Monarch butterfly.
It is wise to collect seeds from your milkweed plants instead of digging them up. Existing plants are established and should be allowed to produce more seed to be released. Nothing could be easier! After the flowers are pollinated, wait for the seed pods to mature and start to open. Cut off a few of the seed pods and place in a paper bag. The seed will fall to the bottom of the bag. Collect the seed and place in a dated, labeled envelope.
Let’s do all we can to insure the protection of the milkweed plant for the survival of the Monarch butterfly!!
To purchase milkweed seed, please check out these links: