Florida Milkweed


A rare plant demands
Attention and excitement
Intertwined with sweat

  Dorothy Rodwell  

Like every Thursday morning, I arrived at the Native Plant Society’s nursery at Koreshan Park at 9am.  My partner, Marlene was waiting for me. We got Into a golf cart and rode a hectic ½ mile ride into a hot pine scrub to record data on the rare and endangered Asclepias curtissii. I crawled on my belly measuring curtissii with a ruler,  counting leaves and spraying off ants with a water pump. Marlene sat on the ground with a tablet recording data.

An hour and a half later, thirsty, dirty and sweating we made it back to the nursery.  Then Justin, the Estero Buffer Preserve biologist, pulled up in an ancient pickup. We were on our way deep into white sands of another pine scrub where the Florida Milkweed, Asclepias feayi, was found a week earlier. There they were, a discovery of 27 tiny grass like plants all in a 10 foot square area; no more than 8 inches in height. These plants have a single round grassy stem with three pair of opposite linear and narrow leaves that are widely separated on the stem. All were about 1/8 inch wide.  None were flowering except for one about 10 feet away.  A tiny umbel with four white flowers was waving at the tip of a stem. Most milkweed flower petals droop downward. With this species, the petals were spread out. Neat! Marlene banged away on her tablet and I took pictures and it was so hot. I did not go back Friday morning when Marlene and Justin went back. There  they discovered that a feral pig stepped on the flowering plant.

Counting, recording data, observing, discussing and getting hot and dirty. This is citizen science.