Outdoor Hands-On Search for Native Milkweed Species Growing in my Community.I went to my local garden center seeking milkweed seed's or plants today. They had no milkweed for sale but they did know a local trail that is know for having milkweed. They called it the ditch trail and said it is near Patagonia.
My excitement level went thru the roof to hear Patagonia was closer than I expected. Unfortunately it is a Patagonia Outlet Store they were directing me to and not a diverse secluded region in Southern South America.
The ditch trail sounds like the exact place that I would expect to hear about native milkweed growing naturally. So I am packing up for my 9-5 job (actually 3:30-00:00) a bit early to set out in hopes of discovering local milkweed plants growing in my community.
Success on my first walk today. I found part of what I was expecting!I parked at Mayberry Park and walked directly to the Truckee Rivers edge. Once I began to look at all the plants growing there I became a bit overwhelmed with the diversity of plants. There are so many plants growing by the river.
Showy Milkweed and Mexican Whorled Milkweed is what I was expecting to find. And Showy Milkweed is what I found! Confused by Dogbane.The first Milkweed plants I found were so abundant that I was in slight disbelief that they were there. It was Dogbane and not Milkweed! It was growing in Droves. I saw two butterflies fluttering thru their vertical stalks. I thought 'they must be milkweed'. It was milkweed paradise. Or was I just confused by a milkweed look-a-like? I collected a few dried seed pods and went about on my way down the path looking for more.
With much luck I stumbled right across milkweed a short distance away. Growing in a slightly different area of loose grass I found another type of milkweed. The Showy Milkweed was in thick clumps a few yards from the rivers edge. In full sun I could there was very young Showy Milkweed growing in between the older, more established plants. It seemed to be very healthy. A few beetles were devouring one of its leaves.
Don't try this at home.Having not seen any milkweed recently I was not positive it was milkweed. I had read that the sap is milky white and has a bitter taste along with mild toxicity. So I had to check for these traits.
I took a small bite.From a small leaf tip I could see the milky white sap oozing out. I nibbled on it like a lettuce leaf. The bitterness was very mild. The leaves are very fluffy and light. I couldn't wait to get back to my car where I had fresh water. I discourage eating milkweed. Leave that for the butterflies!
The first groves that I thought were milkweed turned out to be Dogbane or Hemp Dogbane. It had many similarities to milkweed. First there were the milky white sap when I tore off a leaf. There were the butterflies that I saw. But it didn't all add up to milkweed. The seeds I collected were thin and rounded. Milkweed is known for having pancaked tear shaped seeds.
A road trip to Boise is an opportunity to search for milkweed and monarchs.
The drive from Reno to Boise is an excuse to look for milkweed. I may also scatters some Mexican Whorled Milkweed seeds along the way. [graduation congratulations trip to see Derek McDowell]
One of the most vocal groups claiming that the toxicity of milkweed makes if it an invasive is the farmers. If you are a farmer and you have a pasture with cattle or other livestock, then milkweed is not a good plant to have in your pasture. Sadly that with the drought across the Western states grasslands are becoming barren.
Milkweed should not be encouraged to grow in a pasture. I am simpathetic to the animals who may be compelled by food scarcity to graze on milkweed. Its is not a crop to be raised for grazing.
I know Idaho has a lot of open range grazing for their cattle.Despite the know absence of Milkweed across the country. I am still hoping to find milkweed in the city and state parks near Boise, ID.
There are no cattle grazing in the city parks as far as I know. I plan to look along the Boise River path that meanders thru town. With so many climate similarities to Reno and out Truckee River I think it's likely that there can be Mexican Whorled Milkweed Milkweed and Showy Milkweed on the banks of the river. I depart tomorrow, May 15th, 2014 (I'm up late so thats today) and will continue this post soon.
I did not see any milkweed plants. I looked the entire weekend.The aqueduct near the Boise Town Square Mall didn't have any. The path along the Boise River had a lot of diversity but no milkweed. I only walked a short section in Garden City. I did see three butterflies but I don't think any were Monarchs.
Make milkweed your friend. Your friends will love your milkweed. My name is Brad. Learn more about me now.
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