Saturday, May 14, 2011

More Milkweed Musings

It was hard to decide the order in which to post these milkweed photos, some from last Thursday's drive home from Greenville, and some from last summer. My narrative has to do with the excitement of anticipating the full bloom of 2 milkweeds that have just broken ground
and one that hasn't. I have three favorite milkweed-watching spots now, and I am excited about following another year's stages of their development along with those of the bugs most often associated with them.
I took the top photo last Thursday at a spot just above the highway near Indian Falls. The milkweed was in a spot shielded from wind that receives lots of sun, thus, the blooming process was further along than in the other spots in the area where this species has just broken ground (3rd photo from the top). Even though the flowers aren't quite open, I thought they were beautiful. And you can imagine my anticipation, represented by the second photo taken last summer, of the fully blooming Heart-leafed Milkweed, Asclepias cordifolia, AKA Purple Milkweed. When other species of milkweed are fully blooming, the Heart-leafed has gone to seed (4th photo down, taken last summer). By then the leaves are much greener, but they still retain a purplish tinge, thus one of their common names.
The fifth photo down is of Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa, which has just broken ground in the same area as the Heart-leafed in the third photo. They were only 10 feet apart and are easily distinguished by the different color and shape of their leaves. Also, I remember the spots where each has been blooming for the past several years - maybe the past several thousand!
The fully blooming Showy Milkweed (6th photo) was photographed last summer. Besides its intricate beauty, it has the strong fragrance of peaches and attracts a wide variety of colorful insects, the Monarch Butterfly and Red Milkweed Beetle among them.
The last photo is of the Narrow-leafed Milkweed which hasn't broken ground as far as I can tell. It tends toward a later cycle, especially since its favored river-bottom habitat is still under water in most places. It, too, is preferred by some amazing-looking insects.

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