Wildfower Macro series: Flowering Common Milkweed

Max Buchheit

OTTAWA, Canada

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Artist's Description

Macro of Common milkweed; also known as Silkweed, Milkplant, and silk grass, common silkweed, cottonweed, milkweed, wild cotton, Virginia-silk, algodoncillo, silky swallowwort; Perennial that reproduces by seed and roots.

Taken in July at the Fletcher Conservation Area (site of a former homestead) in Ottawa,Ontario, Canada

Details from Andy’s Northern Ontario Wildflowers

Flower: Lavender; star-shaped individual flowers; dense clusters located at top of plant where leaves join the stem; drooping, June to August.

Leaves: Opposite, blunt; coated with grayish down on the underside.

Stem: Erect, have milky sap.

Fruit: rough-textured pod; splits open to release silky sails attached to seeds.

Height: 1-2 m.

Habitat: Meadows, fields, rocky flat areas, and roadsides.

General Interest: The seed pods look like a large cocoon and seeds are carried on silky fluff. This plant is a favourite to the Monarch butterfly. The plant juices impart a bad taste to the mature butterflies, which serves to protect the butterflies from birds. Candle wick made of the milkweed silk burns cleaner than wick made of cotton. Milkweed contains compounds that are toxic to animals.

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