The common milkweed is beloved by bees, moths and butterflies--Monarch butterflies especially. I try to remember not to yank them out for that reason alone. The caterpillars of the monarch feed off of this plant and are supposedly becoming nearly extinct because there simply aren't as many common milkweed plants around for them. YIKES! We must do something about that. Like what? I dunno...oh, like leave the common milkweed alone and encourage more to grow.
So, if you see this popping up in your garden, don't yank it out. Just think of the beautiful butterflies it will encourage to come to your garden! And it is a rather pretty wildflower, don't you think? I do.
|National Geographic Photo of the Monarch butterfly|
Silly person that I am, I often confuse the common milkweed with another useful and pretty wildflower, Joe Pye Weed. Don't ask me how. I know the difference side by side, but as I usually weed them out before I know what they are...well, I can't tell which is which when they are tiny. Yes, I know, silly. I shouldn't weed either of them out.
I was going to tell you about this last week, but I thought Julie of Wooly Acres had stolen my thunder about the common milkweed....kind of, sort of. She had photos of her plants, but she didn't say anything about the butterfly situation, so I took that avenue. What did she talk about? Well, Julie is good! She discovered our common milkweed is edible. Who knew? Certainly not I.
Well, I did say they were helpful wildflowers. What could possibly be more helpful than being edible for both humans and nearly extinct caterpillars of the majestic Monarch Butterfly?