Posts Tagged ‘climbing milkweed’

New Year’s Yard Walk-About

The sky cleared this morning, and light rain and snow are expected later this evening.

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The thought “yard walk-about” had me heading out the door. This milkweed seed obviously stood out where it was stuck to the ice in the water garden. I knew it wasn’t from the butterflyweed that grows in my butterfly garden. They released their seeds months ago.

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Ripples in the ice created interesting shadow designs.

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Feeding immature leaf miners left designs on this leaf.

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This climbing milkweed (Amplelamus albidus) is considered a pest. Monarch butterflies will occasionally nectar on its small white flowers, and will lay eggs on the leaves late in the season.

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Squirrels occasionally visit our yard. It stayed frozen on the limb of the elm tree, and hurried toward the trunk when I started walking.

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I might just have to do another yard walk-about this afternoon too.

If I remember right, there’s a law against doing housework on New Year’s Day.

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A Climbing Milkweed

Yes, I got excited over finding this vine.

I knew what it was. It grows on my rural property. It’s a climbing milkweed (Matelea obliqua) and is an Illinois state-threatened plant. The vine prefers to grow in rocky woodlands.

It’s odd that only one vine grew here where I found this one in the woods, up from a small lake. It’s odd too that it was still greenish the middle of November, since they bloom the end of May.

I took this picture on my property on May 23, 2007.

I could have it miss-identified because there were no flowers. There’s another species Matelea dicipiens that grows in 2 of the surrounding counties and isn’t listed in Saline County. It’s state-endangered. The difference between the two is the width of the petals. The one above has 1.5 – 2.5 mm width; the other’s petal width is 3-6 mm. Both bloom at May to June. The one on my property was found and identified by a heritage biologist.

While researching this in my resource books and online, I found out there’s a third species, Matelea gonocarpa, that’s found the southern 1/6th of the state and is endangered. It grows in floodplains, which this location isn’t.

Of course, I may have the vine misidentified all together, and it’s not a milkweed vine. If not, I have no idea what it could be. At least I visited my climbing milkweed vicariously on the hike.

Climbing Milkweed

Monarch butterflies only lay eggs on members of milkweed family. This includes the climbing milkweed (Cynanchum laeve), which commonly grows several places in my yard. I didn’t plant it. With the drought like it is this summer, I’m leaving all the nectar sources for the insects. (The orange on the stems is aphids.)

Climbing milkweed is also called honeyvine. All milkweed species have a toxic milky sap.

 The structure of these flower resembles all other milkweed flowers.

These flowers are only 3/16 inch long.

In nature all bright colors are warning colors. The monarch caterpillar eats the milkweed leaves, and the milky sap makes it toxic to predators.

After eating a monarch caterpillar or butterfly, and getting sick, the predator probably wouldn’t eat either of them again.