Common Milkweed

Monarch butterflies are rare this summer.  I’ve seen just one in our St. Paul, MN, garden, even as monarda, swamp milkweed, common milkweed, black-eyed Susan’s, Joe-Pye weed, phlox and a blend of other native plants and garden perennials bloom.  However, we have no shortage of milkweed to nurture monarch caterpillars if they were present.  A lush patch of common milkweed (Asclepia syriaca) grows in our yard, possibly the best-ever since I spotted the first plant shooting up in the middle of a juniper hedge 15 years ago.  The first milkweed blossom opened on July 7 and  most of the plants were flowering by July 17.

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Milkweed buds and blossom.

Though monarchs are absent, red milkweed beetles, bumble bees and ruby-throated hummingbirds frequent our patch.

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Red milkweed beetle on swamp milkweed.

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Ruby-throated hummingbird sips milkweed nectar.

On July 22, I noticed the first seed pods.  New pods continue to form and the earliest pods have plumped-up in the past week.

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Newly formed milkweed seed pods.