Posts Tagged ‘milkweed’

I love milkweed, seeds and pods, and their role in providing food for monarch and other butterflies.  But there’s much more to this plant.  The silky floss has good insulation properties and its fibers are used to clean up oil spills.  On the darker side, many natives in Africa and South America use the poison on the tips of their arrows, while milkweed is toxic to animals when taken in large amounts.

Often the floss of the milkweed flies in the wind, like a head of blonde hair. But in the case of the seeds I found in the park not long ago, each strand was adorned with a plethora of tiny, frosty diamonds.

Copyright janet m. webb




Not everything in the park was bedecked with ice crystals. While this milkweed seed was frozen (at least temporarily) in place, its silky strands were blowing free and although it’s not a leaf, I found this quote more than apt.  Evidently, this little seed wasn’t quite ready to play.

“Come, little leaves,” said the Wind one day, “Come to the meadows with me and play. Put on your dresses of red and gold; For Summer is past, and the days grow cold.”
~George Cooper

Life has gotten rather busy lately, with extra shifts at work, Christmas preparations, and just general life things.  If I haven’t made it to your site recently, it’s not from lack of interest, just lack of time, so please forgive me.  Because I’ve been working Wednesdays, I also haven’t participated in the photo challenge for a few weeks and if you do multiple posts a day, I’m likely not to make to all of them.

I do hope each of you is having a wonderful and wonder-filled December and will come back tomorrow for another frost photo.

© janet m. webb

As the days shorten, it becomes easier to catch the early morning light, even if you’re not a morning person.  The colors of summer are fading, leaving a few hardy flowers, bright berries, wild grapes, and the changing leaves.  Wind teases the fluffy milkweed seeds that cling for another moment to their pods, outlined by the sun.

© janet m. webb 2016

Autumn Movement
Carl Sandburg

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper
sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes,
new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind,
and the old things go, not one lasts.

I’m fascinated by milkweed.  In summer, the plants bear pink flowers.  In the fall and winter, the hard pods offer a textured outside with a smooth interior, while the seeds are attached to white fluff that can take off with the wind.  I love the contrast and find them very photogenic.

What I like most about milkweed is that it provides nectar for a variety of butterflies, the monarch foremost among them. Hummingbird, hummingbird clearwing moths, bees, and a variety of insects also feed there.

The name milkweed derives from the milky substance the oozes from the stem or leaves if they’re damaged.  Although the leaves are poisonous, the caterpillars of the monarch butterfly eat them safely, rendering them poisonous to predators. The large milkweed bug pictured below also feeds on the seeds, making them poisonous to predators as well.  The damage the bugs do isn’t great, even though they swarm the plants.  I managed to isolate just this one for the photo.

There are a number of varieties of milkweed.  The one pictured below is the common milkweed or Asclepias syriaca.  Despite their (to me) beauty and uses, milkweed propagate easily and can become a nuisance.

copyright janet m. web 2015

To view Sally’s thoughts and photos or to find the other photos linked to the “Macro” challenge this week, just click on the link.

copyright janet m. webb 2015

copyright janet m. webb 2015

I’m back on track after thinking that last week was the Black and White Challenge.  Time is flying by, but not quite that quickly.  However, this week really is that challenge and I’ve gone to the beauty of the milkweed, both seeds and pods, to illustrate the beauty of black and white photography.  Although the main reason to love them is that they play host to monarch butterflies, it must also be noted that milkweed leaves are poisonous and that they can spread as easily as dandelions, the latter something that might be well in the wild but not so good in your yard.

copyright janet m. webb 2014 (more…)

I’m late for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Descent, as we spent the long weekend driving to Philadelphia for our younger daughter’s birthday (a 13-hour each way drive) and just got back Monday night (and the challenge was late in being posted on Friday.)  But I don’t want to miss the fun, so here’s my photo for this week.  Although the weather is warm today, the season has descended from summer to autumn.  On the morning I took this photo, winter was showing its hand just slightly, enough to remind me that it was waiting, not always patiently, in the wings, and the frost highlighted the beauty of this milkweed seed that had descended from the pod.


A small lake, a runoff lake for flood control, lies a few blocks from our house.  Despite the utilitarian sound, a walk around the just-over-a-mile path bordering it exposes all sorts of natural beauty.  The glory of the seasons is on display year-round, making it the perfect place for photos.  It’s so inviting that when I go for an exercise walk, I have to leave my iPad/iPhone at home.  The continual stops keep me from getting any real exercise.  They do, however, net some good pictures.

Although I don’t usually think of milkweed as being a winter plant, its sturdy beauty continues to fascinate through all four seasons.  Here’s a sample of what I saw as Bill and I on Saturday alternately splashed through melting snow and plunged into drifts still as deep as almost a foot in some places.  I tried my best to step in Bill’s footprints, but still managed to get snow in my shoes and wet the bottoms of my flannel-lined jeans.  It was beautiful and, in the next week, the warmth of spring will be descending on us.  Soon the colorful spring bulbs will begin growing, but the elegance of the milkweed will remain, a study in contrasts of silkiness and spikiness left over from the previous season.

The Phoneography Challenge is for anyone taking photos without the traditional camera.  You can read more about it, link to all the entries for the week and learn from Sally’s blog by going to this week’s Challenge:  Macro.

Edited in Picasa 3 with Boost and Sharpen

Edited in Picasa 3 with Boost and Sharpen

Edited in Picasa 3 with Pencil Sketch and Drop Shadow

Edited in Picasa 3 with Pencil Sketch and Drop Shadow

Edited in Picasa 3 with Tuning and Museum Matte

Edited in Picasa 3 with Tuning and Museum Matte

As the fall season progresses, I’m enthralled by the beauty and longevity of the milkweed that grow abundantly around the small lake near our house.  They’re a fascinating combination of hardness and softness, rigidity and grace, spikiness and translucent feathery-ness.   From the spiny case come ethereal wisps of white, that cling to the shell with all their might, even when buffeted by wind.

Check out more Nature.