Whorled Milkweed

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Amazing story
of a Monarch Butterfly
Depositing life.

Here is another milkweed that I donated to Project Monarch in Matanzas Pass Preserve. I planted it to see if it would survive in the Preserve and it is indeed doing well. Hopefully, we can plant more of this species. The Whorled Milkweed, Asclepias verticillata, is one of the most widely distributed milkweeds in the U.S. This grass like species covers every state from the east coast to the Rockies much to the joy of the Monarch butterflies.

Three to four very narrow stems grow from buried rhizomes to a height of 2 to 3 feet.  Sometimes stems lie on the ground and sometime they are waving in the wind. Leaves are opposite on the stems and rotate going upward, hence the name “whorl.” Leaves are linear and narrow, maybe 1/8” wide. There are no hairs on verticillata. As a perennial, verticillata will die back in winter and rise and bloom again year after year.

At the tip of the stems are small umbels with a dozen or so greenish white flowers. Flowers are fragrant. Bees, wasps, butterflies and skippers seek verticillata’s nectar. It is also a plant where a female monarch will deposit an egg. Monarchs only deposit eggs on milkweeds and nowhere else. The specimen in the photo is in my native plant garden.

 

Dorothy Rodwell