Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Plant of the week: Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Because there might be some time between photo expeditions and film processing I’ll be posting a photo and a little information on one of our wetland or aquatic plants, although I’ll occasionally add fish and wildlife. Our plant this week is Marsh Milkweed, one of the prettiest plants you can find at the water’s edge, or deep in the marsh. Because it isn’t fussy it makes a great candidate for native shoreland restorations. Not only are its magenta blooms gorgeous, they attract butterflies and like common milkweed the foliage is fed upon by Monarch caterpillars. If you leave the stem up through the winter, in spring you may watch birds tearing off the fibrous outer strips of the stems. It makes great nesting material and great cordage. I once made some twine from a single common milkweed stem and found it impossible to break with my hands.

Some of the information discussed in Plant of the Week will be taken from The Book of Swamp and Bog by John Eastman. I highly recommend this book if you want to go beyond simply identifying the local flora. He also has two other books: The Book of Field and Roadside, and The Book of Forest and Thicket. I highly recommend them all.

More on Marsh Milkweed

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