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Thursday, October 29, 2009


milkweeds in field gone to seed

Quite a few other people have blogged about this plant, but it caught my fancy today, so here is my version of a familiar fall sight in the eastern United States. As I looked out over the field, it almost reminded me of the "fairies" I tried to catch in September. But of course it was ... the lowly milkweed.

milkweed pods

One characteristic of all milkweeds is their pointed pods, often growing at odd angles from the main stem.

open milkweed pod

Inside are ranks of seeds with silky hairs attached. But when they are inside the pod they are packed tightly together in ranks. They almost look like a pine cone! I just love how they look and feel at this stage. If you run your hand over the "cone" with the grain, they feel smooth and yet powerful. You can almost sense the compressed energy held in that bundle.

milkweed pod with seeds emerging

milkweed seeds in grass

Once they are freed from the pod, watch out! The hairs spread out, turning the seeds into little helicopters ready to transport their life to the reaches of the neighborhood and beyond.

I just like this next one. Its one milkweed seed caught on a seed head of the Queen Anne's Lace. It looks like a fireworks display that is being devoured by some monster spider.

milkweed seed caught on a Queen Anne's Lace

A few years ago I collected pictures of a number of different milkweeds. You can see them at the link below. Tomorrow, if I can find the picture from a few years back, I'll show you how the fall colors are different this year.

See Milking the Weed


•°°• IcyBC •°°• said...

These have their own beauties, and I also like taking pictures of dried or dead flower heads, too!

WillOaks Studio said...

I love the milkweed and when those beautiful flowers finally turn to the ripe pods...well, calling them fairies is just fine! The blue berries on my post today are a huge "harvest" of juniper berries! (gin, anyone?)

RNSANE said...

The look lovely floating about, doing a sort of aerial ballet as they are freed from their earthly moorings!

rainfield61 said...

What a funny (?) or interesting look of a milkweed, your last picture is my fancy.

Sharkbytes said...

Icy- the shades of brown with occasional highlights can be very rich in tone and texture, can't they?

Hi WillOaks- Well, there is something I've never tried!

RNSANE- They DO dance! I tried to catch one in flight with the camera, but they blew away too fast.

rainfield- I like that one a lot too. Not just botany, but a little art.

Rick (Ratty) said...

Milkweed are some of my very favorite plants. All posts about them are welcome to me. These are such fun plants for some of the reasons you've described, and much more.

Sharkbytes said...

Ratty- If I can get my act together at the right times next year I hope to talk about the common milkweed some more. Stay tuned!

betchai said...

wow, love those fluffies, they are so unique and they have their own beauty.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Betchai- You must have some kinds of milkweed in California, yes?