Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday

While out riding on my scooter yesterday, I came across a wonderful area full of Goldenrod.  I took a couple of photos even though I had featured Goldenrod last week.  I just couldn't resist. I wish I had had this shot last week, but since I didn't, I will post it now.

This picture does not do this scene justice.  The yellow was  brighter than sunshine, the temperature was summer-like with a high in the low 30s, the grasshoppers were everywhere and the cicadas celebrated the last days of summer with their buzzing songs.  I have this scene implanted in my brain so that I will be able to 'see' it in January when we have a foot of snow.

On the other side of the path were more Goldenrod.  And today's wildflower, the Milkweed plant.

Milkweed gets its name from the thick, white, milky juice inside this plant.  It contains latex and some species are know to be toxic.  It is in the Genus, Asclepias, which is named after the Greek god of healing Asclepius, because this plant has been used to treat many ailments.

I took this photo last spring.  This plant looks great even without flowers or seed pods.

In early summer the flowers open.  It always amazes me how these round flowers can turn into those long seed pods that Milkweeds are famous for.  But they do.  Each flower is pollinated.  The seeds are produced in follicles or seed pods.

Inside the pods the seeds are arranged in overlapping rows.  Each seed has a white, silky 'parachute attached to it.  When the pods ripen and split open the seeds fly through the air attached to their parachutes, much like dandelions.

Perhaps the most important use of Milkweed is by the Monarch Butterflies who depends solely on this plant to feed their larva.  Other insects also use the Milkweed as a food source.

During WWII, the United States collected 5,000 pounds of the white filament fibres to use as a filling instead of kapok.  It is still grown commercially as a pillow filling.

Native South Americans and Africans used the poisons in the sap to tip their arrows, making them more lethal for hunting purposes.

I love the seed pods when they split open and disperse their seeds.  I have collected these pods in the past and used them to decorate Christmas wreaths and other decorations.  They can be spray painted and added to floral arrangements.  I have also used them to make fun things with my students.  I still have a little 'mouse' I made many, many years ago.  It has seen better days, especially after Mimi got a hold of it and decided it was fair game.

Half a pod, some hot glue, a couple of pistachio shells for ears, two black beads for eyes and a piece of string or lace for a tail.  Cute, eh?


Dolores said...

I like the little crafts that can be made with nature's treasures. I'm hibernating due to the temperature. Working on finishing things.

dutchcomfort said...

Your wildflowers look lovely, also on a Thursday! Love the story about the use of Milkweed fibres as a filling!
That mouse is cute!

Wacky Woman said...

Been gone and am just catching up on blog posts. Clever mouse!!!