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Danaus plexippus and Asclepias tuberosa

Asclepias tuberosa and Danaus plexippus

Today's image is courtesy of Janet Davis, garden writer extraordinaire and author of the Beautiful Botany web site (previously featured as a resource link). Janet used this image of butterfly milkweed and a monarch butterfly to illustrate her article on butterfly plants. Please keep in mind that the usual copyright terms apply to this image since it is from someone not employed by UBC Botanical Garden. Thank you, Janet!

As mentioned in a previous entry, milkweeds are the exclusive food of monarch butterfly caterpillars. Toxins in the milkweed sap accumulate in the tissue of the caterpillar, rendering it (and the subsequent adult) poisonous and inedible to birds.

Asclepias tuberosa has two features that distinguish it from other milkweeds: 1) its sap is not milky, and 2) its leaves are alternately arranged, instead of opposite. The Shenandoah National Park in the US has an excellent factsheet on Asclepias tuberosa for more information.

On a final note, monarchs have been in the news and editorials recently regarding an international agreement to conserve monarch habitat. “Is the mighty monarch butterfly on its last wings?” is an editorial questioning the utility of the agreement in the face of other dangers to the monarch.

Photography resource link: The Making of a Fine Art Photograph, an article by Pete Myers for The Luminous Landscape web site. It examines the process and time spent in “digitally developing” an image for fine art after pressing the shutter.

4 Comments

This beautiful milkweed is blooming right now in East Texas where I live. It is fun to learn more especially when a plant I know and love is featured.

Asclepias tuberosa - Z3 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
Asclepias tuberosa - Z4-9 - A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk

Dan Timely coincidence Asclepias tuberosa being featured today. Hiking in the alvar area west of Ottawa yesterday,I was surprised to find an old logging road bordered by these beauties thriving in the thin barren gravel. I had never stumbled on this cream of the milkweeds growing this far north. Some unidentified butterfies cavorting amongst them added to the scene.

That particular flower attracts a lot of butterfly activity in my area (southern NY). Sometimes I get lucky and see a monarch, swallowtail, and fritterly (sp?) all on the same plant. Of course, when I approach with my camera they all fly away. Sigh.

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