Saturday, June 6, 2015

Milkweed Chronicles - Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly Weed

An encounter with Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa, invariably elicits a visceral response. For sheer visual impact, there are few brighter stars in the native wildflower universe. 

Within a single patch, the flower color may range from a mellow orangey-yellow to deepest fiery red,

and the symmetrically arranged clusters of blossoms, or umbels, 
provide even more visual punch by concentrating the energy of a dozen or more tiny blazing stars into an irresistible tractor beam of natural aesthetic attraction.

Butterfly weed shares the complex flower structure of its close relatives, common milkweed and purple milkweed, as well as their bountiful nectar and pollen production.

This tiny metallic green sweat bee, one of the Halictids, displays a seemingly insatiable appetite for everything A. tuberosa has to offer,

patiently roving from flower to flower for the duration of our visit,

apparently oblivious to the curious eyes above (and almost everything else) in its nectar-induced trance.

We, too, are entranced by Asclepias tuberosa

and having just parted ways with Asclepias purpurascens,

we resist the temptation to compare the two,

reveling instead in all their wonderful similarities and differences, 
savoring the joy of sharing an ecosystem with such remarkable fellow beings as these...

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