Hey there folks!
This week’s mystery almost looks like last week’s.
But surly you’ll notice this set little balls is attached to a plant.
This is a rather tricky one, but hey, they wouldn’t be worthy mysteries if they weren’t! Today we’re looking at the buds of Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca.
The open flowers form pink balls of flowers at the joints of the broad, oval leaves.
Miz Flora tells me humans used this plant for many things in olden times, like the fiber for ropes and coarse cloth. Some people ate part of it, specially prepared, but it is highly poisonous. DO NOT EAT this plant.
Insects may feed on the flower nectar, but only one insect—that Miz Flora knows of—feeds on the toxic leaves. The caterpillar of the Monarch Butterfly. They rely on milkweeds of many varieties—all toxic to humans—as their ONLY food. And as you might have guessed, the poison stays in their bodies, even when they metamorphose to butterflies, and tastes nasty to birds. One monarch in a lifetime is likely all a bird will try. Talk about a weird plant-insect association.
For more information on the Common Milkweed, check out this USDA plant guide.