Monarchs and Milkweed

If I could name two things that thrill me on sight in my garden, they would be Monarch butterflies and a form of milkweed called Butterfly weed/Asclepias tuberosa.

Milkweed is named for its milky sap that gets ingested by the caterpillars. This causes predators to vomit so they soon learn to leave the yellow striped caterpillars alone.

Asclepias tuberosa/ Butterfly weed

Even if Butterfly weed was not on the Monarch menu, I would plant it. The blooms and buds make beautiful bouquets.

This plant is easy to grow and propagate. No problems with pests.

Plant some milkweed and wait for the Monarchs.


Seeds that Fly

I study plants from start to finish. I have learned to do this.

They are not just flowers and leaves.

They are seeds in the beginning and humus at the end.

The cycle is a circle. The whole picture is important.

I refer to seeds as future flowers, but they are also food.

Seeds need to spread to reduce competition with the mother plant.

Butterfly weed seeds fly. I think this is appropriate.

Seeds are also beautiful.

As this Asclepias tuberosa pod splits open it exposes the lovely arrangement of the seeds enclosed.

As the wind blows, these seeds will separate.

The fluffy fibers will serve as a hang glider so the seeds can float to a new location.

The fibers open like an umbrella as they emerge from the pod.

It is a beautiful thing to witness.

Flying seeds on a journey to make future flowers in a new niche.

I love nature!


Sun Substitute

It is another dreary day here,

so I am posting a sun substitute


to brighten this day

to remind me that

there are many sources of light


some shine, others reflect

Look for the light.

Look for the bright.


Choose joy.



If you plant it, they will come.

I have treasures I do not own.

I have waited for years for Monarchs to come to my Butterfly weed.


Finally, they came and laid eggs on the Asclepias tuberosa.

Now there are caterpillars eating the Asclepias leaves as they should.


I hope they pupate where I can watch over them.


(I do not interfere with wildlife unless necessary.)

I am thrilled they are here. They are treasured guests.

I hope the cycle continues for years to come.

More Monarchs…More caterpillars…


Thanks to some seeds that I saved from another garden.


My dreams are small. My treasures are alive.

Life is precious.




Named After its Food

How would you like to be named after your favorite food?

Ms. Chocolate Eclair? Mr. Potato Chip? Mrs. Pimento Cheese?

Well someone named these bugs after their food, Large Milkweed Bug.


Its Latin name is not much better, Oncopeltus fasciatus. That sounds like a disease!


I found these on my Butterfly weed which is in the Milkweed family.

Here is an adult on a seed pod.

These nymphs do not have wings yet.


They are the same color as the Asclepias blooms.


Is this camouflage? I doubt it.

You are what you eat. These are toxic due to the milk weed seeds that they ingest.

They don’t need to hide.

Flower (Ms. Mongolian Beef)


Timing is Everything

I brought home a pod of butterfly weed seeds over two decades ago.


I got it while on a trip with my sister and one of our college friends.

I planted the seeds along this bank.

Danaus plexippus on Asclepias tuberosa

It has taken years for the plants to mature.

My dream was to see them covered in Monarchs.

Maybe some have come before while I was not watching.

This year most of my butterfly weed has finished blooming, except for this one plant.


The Monarch(s) came two days ago.

As I pulled up my driveway yesterday.

I saw my dream.

Monarch butterfly on Butterfly weed.

A lone Monarch on the one plant that was a late bloomer.

I ran for my camera.

After taking many photos, I stood and reveled in my good fortune.


The timing of the Butterfly weed still blooming, the Monarch visiting, my arriving home while it was there and getting my camera in time to capture it all.

Everything is a miracle.


Asclepias Architecture

This is Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa.

The group of milkweed plants is the only food for Monarch butterfly caterpillars.

I love these plants because they are drought tolerant and deer-resistant.

The umbels of flowers are an eye-catching orange.

My favorite feature is the symmetry of the bloom clusters along the stem.

The umbel in the center matures first. Then the adjacent clusters next and so on outwardly.

This symmetry keeps the entire stem balanced.

Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa

I find this fascinating.

Form Follows Function.