3 Herb Mamas

Wednesday’s Weeds: GOT MILKWEED?

on July 10, 2014

MILKWEED Inflorescence (Asclepias syriaca)

First, I want to apologize for being late with Wednesday’s Weeds this week. We had a huge storm that knocked out our power for a day and threw my week off. When I was able to get back on my computer it turned out that wordpress had changed the formatting for the blog and I am back at square one learning how to write, edit and post. Naturally, gardens both wild and cultivated are tugging me outside so I am struggling. I appreciate your patience.

Usually my focus in Wednesday’s Weeds is more on the practical uses, both culinary and medicinal, for wild plants but this week my approach is a little different. Some parts of the Milkweed plant are indeed edible when gathered at the right time and properly prepared. However, the reason I am choosing to highlight this plant is with a different perspective in mind. There is a very good reason to avoid gathering and consuming this plant right now because it serves other beings besides human and their needs are more pressing at the moment than our own.

Milkweed in the wild. (Photo credit: Missouri State Extension)

Although there are a number of factors involved in the diminishing populations of Monarach butterflies, habitat loss and climate change are two biggies. In Mexico, where they overwinter, deforestation of Fir forests is seriously threatening their survival. During their semi-dormant period in the winter Monarchs need dense tree cover. During breeding season they need abundant Milkweed on which to lay their eggs and to provide food for the larva when they emerge.

Monarch butterfly1-femaile-monarch

Monarch Butterfly: male on left and female on right (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Monarch_larva

Monarch in the larva stage feeding on Milkweed leaves (Photo credit: Richard Orr , Maryland Land Insects)

You can help this highly protected species (Monarchs) by planting Milkweed (and other Asclepias species) and allowing it to flower profusely. I assure you that the pollinator show will be gorgeous. If you would like to learn more about Monarchs and their plight Barbara Kingsolver has written a fabulous novel that is set in Appalachia called FLIGHT BEHAVIOR. You can also learn more here:

http://www.monarchwatch.org/


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