May 14, 2014

Native Milkweed Plants I found growing along the Truckee River near Reno Nevada

Outdoor Hands-On Search for Native Milkweed Species Growing in my Community.

I went to my local garden center seeking milkweed seed's or plants today. They had no milkweed for sale but they did know a local trail that is know for having milkweed. They called it the ditch trail and said it is near Patagonia. My excitement level went thru the roof to hear Patagonia was closer than I expected. Unfortunately it is a Patagonia Outlet Store they were directing me to and not  a diverse secluded region in Southern South America. The ditch trail sounds like the exact place that I would expect to hear about native milkweed growing naturally. So I am packing up for my 9-5 job (actually 3:30-00:00) a bit early to set out in hopes of discovering local milkweed plants growing in my community.

Success on my first walk today. I found exactly what I was expecting!

I parked at Mayberry Park and walked directly to the Truckee Rivers edge. Once I began to look at all the plants growing there I became a bit overwhelmed with the diversity of plants. There are so many plants growing by the river.

Mexican Whorled Milkweed & Showy Milkweed is what I was expecting to find. And Mexican Whorled Milkweed & Showy Milkweed is what I found!

The first Milkweed plants I found were so abundant that I was in slight disbelief that they were there. It was Mexican Whorled Milkweed! It was growing in Droves. To my surprise I immediately saw two butterflies fluttering thru their vertical stalks.  It was milkweed paradise. I collected a few dried seed pods and went about on my way down the path looking for more.

With much luck I stumbled right across more milkweed a short distance away. Growing in a slightly different area of loose grass I found another type of milkweed. The Showy Milkweed was in thick clumps a few yards from the rivers edge. In full sun I could there was very young Showy Milkweed growing in between the older, more established plants. It seemed to be very healthy. A few beetles were devouring one of its leaves.
Don't try this at home.
Having not seen any milkweed recently I was not positive it was milkweed. I had read that the sap is milky white and has a bitter taste along with mild toxicity. So I had to check for these traits.
I took a small bite.
From a small leaf tip I could see the milky white sap oozing out. I nibbled on it like a lettuce leaf. The bitterness was very mild. The leaves are very fluffy and light. I couldn't wait to get back to my car where I had fresh water. I discourage eating milkweed. Leave that for the butterflies!

I have creates a website to help you find what milkweed grows natively in your state. It is recommended that you grow native milkweed.
Go to find what milkweed is native in your state and start a butterfly garden right away.