Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
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"And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day" (Genesis 1:31)
Wild Flowers of Sleepy Hollow Lake
- Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) -
(click on the photos to enlarge)
(Milkweed - 04) There are about 60 species of milkweed in the United States, and they grow in all 48 contiguous states. The name of the milkweed came from the sticky white latex juice, which is in all parts of the plant. The juice was used by the Native Americans to help solve lactation problems in nursing mothers, and by early settlers as a glue. This photo shows the flower buds at the top of the milkweed plant and open blooms below.
(Milkweed - 02) This is a roadside milkweed waiting for the return of the monarch butterflies; but alas, they haven't returned this year. We don't know whether it is the result of spraying for the West Nile Virus or as the result of the killing of more than 20,000,000 monarchs in Mexico. The monarch butterflies migrate there each fall and return here in the spring. In any event, it is an environmental disaster. Since monarchs are believed to return to the areas where their mothers laid their eggs on the milkweed, it is doubtful if they will return in the near future.
(Milkweed - 01) The milkweed flower, which blooms from June to August, is not the large clusters we saw in the previous photo, but a cluster of many individual 1/2 inch flowers formed into a "ball" shape. Each milkweed flower is on a single stem radiating out from the center of the cluster and each has five cup-shaped petals, five united stamens, and a column of five pistils.
(Milkweed - 03) We can see more of the details in this closer view of the milkweed flowers, particularly the "horn-shaped" protrusions coming from the center of each of the five cup-shaped petals. When we spend the time to truly look at the intragate details of God's creation, we find one spectacular wonder after another.
(Milkweed - 05) This fourteen times normal sized photo shows the detail of a single flower bud that is exhibiting the first signs of opening. Note the protective calyx starting to unfurl at the bottom of the bud photo.
(Milkweed - 05a) This is a fourteen times normal enlargement of a single milkweed flower. The actual size of the flower is only about 1/2" across.
(Milkweed - 07) The milkweed seed pods are depicted in this photo, from the immature (in the background) to the more mature (foreground-right). The milkweed plant was also used to treat dropsy, a fluid accumulation in the cell tissue caused by a failing liver. More recent scientific studies of the milkweed plant revealed that it contains the same cardiac glycosides that are used in modern medicine to treat this disease. A low fat and unprocessed food vegan diet is also good preventive medicine.
(Milkweed - 08) In the fall of the year, the silvery silken strands of the milkweed seeds burst forth from their pods. They carry the seeds through the air to a new location.
(Milkweed - 09) By the middle of September many of the milkweed leaves had turned yellow, dried up and begun to fall from the plant, giving this wildflower a rather stark appearance. Then a new beauty comes forth, glistening in the sun light. The milkweed has new life! This is just another of God's many blessings.
(Milkweed - 10) The season is nearing the end. The leaves have fallen. The milkweed seed pods are ready to burst and scatter their seeds in the fall breezes.
(Milkweed - 11) The first of the winter snows has fallen, and some of the snow has even melted away in the warmer weather that followed; but still, some of the milkweed seeds have not blown away from their pods.
(Milkweed - 12) This is a closer look at some of the milkweed seeds that have not been dispersed.
(Milkweed - 13) Some of these milkweed seeds have pulled loose from the tightly packed cluster in the pods, and hang poised to fly away with the next gust of wind.
(Milkweed - 14) A nearly empty milkweed seed pod stands waiting for the wind to come and blow away the remaining seeds.
(Milkweed - 14a) As the last of the milkweed seeds blow away, these remaining wildflowers retire for the winter. We and the monarch butterflies will see them again next year.
(Milkweed - 15) By the beginning of summer, last year's milkweed seeds have germinated, growing into stately flowering plants.
(Milkweed - 16) The leaves of the milkweed are lanceolate to broadly oval in shape and grow opposite one another on the stock.
(Milkweed - 16a) The buds of the milkweed flowers begin as green and darken just before they burst forth into flowers. We have noticed that the flowers of a milkweed's umbel (flower cluster) bloom at the same time.
(Milkweed - 17) The newly opened milkweed flower clusters stand nearly upright, but later they hang downward. We didn't see anything in the literature about this characteristic of the milkweed, so we speculate that perhaps the flower cups fill with rain water, and the weight of the water causes the flower clusters to bend over.
| Wild Flowers of SHL: Photo Identification, Common Name, Scientific Name | Art and Photos |
Presented here are just a few of the countless components of God's creation. Just as we cannot have human and animal life without water and plants, neither can we have lasting peace without love and compassion. It is our hope and prayer that this series will motivate people to live and act in a cruelty-free manner; that we would no longer hurt or destroy each other, the animals or our environment.
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