Orange you glad it’s fall!

Summer and early fall in Oakland Township mean plenty of wildflowers popping up all through the parks. My personal favorite is Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)! When walking through the parks in July it is easy to spot: bright orange clumps of flowers pop up above the grasses and sedges of prairies. I found some great specimens in grassy areas along the Paint Creek Trail. Keep an eye out for their fluffy seeds this fall!

butterfly-milkweed-seed-pod
A Butterfly Milkweed seed pod splitting to show mature seeds. -Picture by Heather Herndon

“May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.”
-Irish Blessing

butterfly milkweed
Butterfly milkweed in full bloom.- picture by Heather Herndon

Milkweeds are said to be a favorite among the many species of butterflies. The bright showy color attracts not only butterflies but bees and other pollinators. The plant is a perennial that is quite drought tolerant and grows best in well drained sandy soils. A showy flowering plant that is drought tolerant, low maintenance, and attracts butterflies… can’t get much better than that!

butterfly-milkweed-seeds
Feathery tops of late summer seeds of the Butterfly Milkweed. – Picture by Heather Herndon

When it comes to acquiring some of these plants to have in your garden  there are a few ways to go about it. Digging out and moving a whole plant from a natural area is bad idea (and is against township ordinances!). The plants you dig probably won’t survive, and you would damage a beautiful natural area . I’d say leave the plants where they are so that everyone can enjoy them! I would recommend seed collecting  in early fall  after the seeds have matured. The seed pods contain hundreds of seeds! You can join us for seed collecting workday on Tuesdays mornings in October. Seeds and live plants are also available through native plant nurseries. Remember, Butterfly Milkweed likes sandy, well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight!

Butterfly milkweed

Plant information for this blog post was provided by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at wildflower.org and the quote from butterflywebsite.com.

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