Wednesday, February 18, 2015

100 Species to Know by Sight - #10 Common Milkweed

The next species on my list of species that every kid (and adult) in Mid-Michigan should know by sight is the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).  This common species is found throughout Michigan and across eastern North America in a variety of soil types.  It is recognized by its bright green oval-shaped leaves that are covered with downy hairs and its globe of pink five-petaled flowers.  In fall its seed pods split open revealing dark brown tear-drop shaped seeds tipped with a feathery tuft of white hairs.  These hairs act as a parachute, catching the wind to disperse the plant's seeds.

For more information about the Common Milkweed please see this species profile from June 2013.

Common Milkweed leaves and flowers

A closer view of the plant's unique flowers

A Common Milkweed with one fully opened globe of flowers and one yet open

The teardrop shaped seeds tipped with a tuft of feathery hairs

Frost covered seeds

Winter stalks and empty seedpods

A nearly empty seedpod with only a few remaining seeds

To see the previous species on my list of Species to Know by Sight look here.

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