Milkweed Blossom

Richard G Witham

Joined February 2008

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Artist's Description

These fabulous tiny blossoms are a vital source of nectar for bees,
bugs and most importantly, butterflies, and they are a larval food
source for Monarch Butterflies and their relatives.
.
The name refers to the milky substance extruded from their stem
when broken and which contains alkaloids, latex, and several other
complex compounds including cardenolides.
Carolus Linnaeus named the genus after Asclepius, the Greek god of
healing, because of the many folk-medicinal uses for the milkweed plants.
.
Click on the detail thumbnail for a larger view ➜

Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca or incarnata, is a tall downy plant with clusters of pinkish-white to
purple flowers. Flowers consist of 5 slightly curving and hood-shaped petals around a 5 hooded
crown. Leaves are approximately 8 cm long, narrow lanceolate and normally dark green with a
gray downy back. Plants are 30 to 120 cm in hight and can be found June through August across
most of the eastern and central regions of the USA and Canada.

Pollination occurs when the feet or mouthparts of flower visiting insects such as bees, wasps and
butterflies, slip into one of the five slits in each flower formed by adjacent anthers. The bases of the
pollinia then mechanically attach to the insect, pulling a pair of pollen sacs free when the pollinator
flies off. Ref: Wikipedia

Photographed along National Forest Service Rout 44 in the NFS Chattahoochee Wildlife Conservation
District in White County, GA USA; Olympus E-3, Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 macro.

FEATURED in Wildflowers of North America Sep. 2011

Artwork Comments

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