Saturday, March 5, 2011

Native milkweed vine valuable to native pollinators and particularly to monarch butterfly caterpillars

Milkweed set of photos on Flickr
Please click on individual images to ENLARGE view of Matelea Baldwyniana (An Arkansas native vine milkweed) with various butterflies and moths. Thanks to Jodi Nimmo for allowing me to publish these on our site. Twining milkweed of this and a couple of similar native species are actually common in the riparian area of Fayetteville, Arkansas, streams. These were growing behind Jodi's previous residence in the urban watershed of the Tanglewood Branch, a tributary of the Spout Spring Branch, which is a tributary of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River on August 29, 2010. Seed pods are easy to spot in winter when foliage of other vines, shrubs and trees is missing. Check out thickets and clusters of honeysuckle vines near your home and you may spot twining milkweed vines and their pods entangled with the other plants. The stems are small in diameter and appear tan, almost white, this time of year. Back in summer, I got to make a few photos of one of these plants in the peace-circle garden of WPWP where it was entangled with a native trumpet honeysuckle vine which we had transplanted there. Its roots likely were entangled with the Lonciera semperviren's roots when I dug it up to move there. However, someone apparently came along and trimmed it off of the post the honeysuckle was using for support, maybe thinking it was a nonnative morning glory because of its leaf shape. As these photos show, the native milkweed vine is valuable to pollinators, and its foliage is eaten by monarch caterpillars.

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