Missouri Wildflower Guide


None call thee flower! . . . I will not so malign
The satin softness of thy plumed seed,
Nor so profane thee as to call thee weed,
Thou tuft of ermine down, fit to entwine
About a queen; or, fitter still, to line
The nest of birds of strange exotic breed.
The orient cunning, and the somnolent speed
Of looms of dusky Ind weave not so fine
A gossamer . . . Ah me! could he who sings,
On such adventurous and aerial wings
Far over lands and undiscovered seas
Waft the dark seeds of his imaginings,
That, flowering, men might say, Lo! look on these
Wild Weeds of Song--not all ungracious things!

 

From "To the Milkweed" by Lloyd Mifflin

 

 

Common Milkweed

Typically considered an undesirable weed, Milkweed's lovely blossoms are sometimes under-appreciated. I find the rose-pink color of the large ball-shaped flower clusters beautiful, and the unique architecture of the flowers interesting.

 

Milkweed is named for the milky sap that it contains, which oozes from broken stems or leaves. The flowers are attractive to butterflies, and the leaves of plants in the Milkweed family are the only source of food for the larvae of the Monarch Butterfly. Poisons in the Milkweed are ingested by the larvae, making them and adult Monarchs unpleasant-tasting and toxic, deterring predators.

 

When the seeds have matured, the long, rough-textured seed pod splits open, revealing rows of overlapping brown seeds, attached to silky floss. As the floss dries, it expands into a fluffy parachute that is easily caught by the slightest breeze, dispersing the seeds.

 

  • Bloom Time

    May-Aug

     

  • Habit

    Herbaceous

     

  • Height

    2-6 feet

     

  • Longevity

    Perennial

     

  • Leaf Size

    To 6 inches

     

Common Milkweed leaf