Common Milkweeds are starting to bloom. My favorite patch is on a sandy south-facing shoulder of Riverside Drive where is it safe to park (on the “wrong” side of the road), allowing easy observation and photography.
Here are a few pix showing the nature of the blossom.
Notice how the 5 sepals fold back to reveal a very complex structure.
Click on this link for a very interesting and well illustrated study of this plant:
It seems that I am in the same position as Craig Holdrege was nine years ago.
“I had casually observed common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca, Asclepiadaceae) but never paid too much attention to it. True, I was fascinated by its big globes of flowers and, in the fall, by its beautiful seeds that floated through the air on their tufts of white silk. I also knew that common milkweed is the main food plant for monarch butterfly larvae. But it was only when I was preparing for the 2006 summer course at The Nature Institute and when I noticed the flowers of common milkweed beginning to open, that I looked closely at them for the first time. I realized that the plant has a highly complex flower structure and, in addition, observed how the flowers were being visited by many different insects.”
I took the above images yesterday, Wednesday, June 24th. This morning, the 25th, more blossoms had opened and the characteristic perfume of milkweed blossoms permeated the calm air.
I stopped, hoping to see a Monarch or perhaps some bumble bees.
Imagine my surprise to see this Monster pausing to suck nectar from an almost “full” globe of flowers.
It only visited the one globe and took off, for what I don’t know.
A little while later this Bumblebee came to refuel:
A nice morning adventure!
(As usual, click on the images to get a close-up and on the red links to get more information.)