Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Butterfly MilkWeed Attracts Beautiful Butterflies

I started with a variety of milkweed that is white called 'Ice Ballet'. I have a nice sized patch of the white flowers blooming now; but I am sure This mauve colored one must be a seedling from the white variety. It is very beautiful and is a butterfly magnet.

This plant is a favorite to monarch butterflies as well as others. The ones that I have attracted are the Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybele, i think.

Here is some info about this plant:

Asclepias incarnata, with common names such as: Swamp Milkweed, Rose Milkweed, Swamp Silkweed, and White Indian Hemp, is a herbaceous, perennial plant species native to North America. It is found growing in damp to wet soils and also is cultivated as a garden plant for its attractive flowers, which are visited by butterflies and other pollinators due to its copious production of nectar. Like most other milkweeds, it has sap containing toxic chemicals, a characteristic that repels insects and herbivorous animals.

Swamp milkweed prefers moisture retentive to damp soils in full sun to partial shade and typically, is found growing wild near the edges of ponds, lakes, streams, and low areas—or along ditches. It is one of the best attractors of the Monarch Butterfly, which feeds on the flowers and lays her eggs on the plants. The emerging caterpillars feed on the leaves.

The plants have specialized roots for living in heavy wet soils. The scented, thick, white roots are adapted to live in environments low in oxygen. Blooming occurs in mid to late summer and after blooming; long, relatively thin, rounded, pods are produced that grow uprightly. The pods split open in late summer to late fall, releasing seeds that are attached to silky hairs, which act as parachutes that carry the seeds on the currents of the wind.

This species is cultivated frequently and a number of cultivars are available. They are used especially in gardens designed to attract butterflies. The nectar of the plant attracts many other species of butterflies and insects as well. The plants are also sold as freshly cut flowers, mostly for their long-lasting flower display, but sometimes, for the distinctive seed pods.

1 comment:

Lisha said...

Very interesting, thanks for the great information--love plants that butterflies are attracted to!

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