Milkweed and Monarch Butterflies in the North

Here’s a good reason for actively maintaining species diversity. The photo bellow shows a community of milkweed interrupted by a run-off stream created by a subdivision road and a water and environmental protection policy designed to put water on the surface …

Milkweed Among Its Successors

That bright green grass in the foreground was seeded to stabilize a rough road-fill slope.

Imagine, starting out in Santa Cruz, California and then flying 2000 kilometres to lay your eggs on this colony of milkweeds, then flying back, then returning, then flying back, then returning, then flying back, then returning…

Worth Travelling 2000 Kilometres For

Flowers that are the stuff of dreams.

Milkweed used to be terrifically common in the Okanagan, but suffered terribly (here and elsewhere) when it was harvested wholesale to stuff Mae West life jackets during the Second World War. Its long growth season and habit of growing on the edges of streams and roadways has made it vulnerable, too. You only see it occasionally now.

Monarch Butterfly

Home at last

This is California, or California is here, or there is a north-south dimension to our mountains and forests that interacts in complex ways with the other story of altitude, and only migratory birds, ladybugs, and monarchs remind us of it. This makes them useful as all get out.

Tattered After a Long Journey

This is the only colony of milkweed for miles, yet she found it, and at the right time, too. This is the first monarch I’ve seen in my half decade in the Okanagan. I’m sure glad she’s here. Um, it is a female, isn’t it? Can anyone tell?

Preserving milkweed — in fact, encouraging it to spread — means that we will continue to have monarchs to be inspired by and to show us the true and distant connections that make up our land. More than, that, though, it might make great economic sense. Milkweed is still used for hypo-allergenic pillows and comforters, has potential as a skin cream, and its seeds are actually an efficient, but costly, biofuel. If it can do all that, I’m sure it can do more to add to the resilience of our landscapes and our society. The butterflies would be the bonus of all that economic activity. More than that, though, it’s beautiful in its own right.

Milkweed

One of the sacred plants that is a marker of the year.

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