20 June 2007

Butterfly Weed Rebound

This February, I planted these two butterfly weed plants in the front garden. They were small, and got nipped by a frost, but quickly rebounded. When my mom was visiting in April, we counted 21 monarch caterpillars (that's right, 21!) munching on these plants. When they were through,there was nothing left but green little nubs sticking out of the mulch.

I know that 4 of the monarchs survived, because they headed west from the plants and formed chrysalises on our front porch.

The larve in the back is about to transform into a chrysalis, like the blurry one in front. All 4 of these sucessfully matured into adult butterflies.

And now, the butterfly weed is back and as colorful and beautiful as ever, providing nectar for other insects. I'm amazed at its ability to rebound. No doubt this is why it earned the name "weed." I've seen this butterfly weed labelled around town as Asclepius tuberosa, but in fact I think it may actually be Asclepius lanceolata, also known as Mexican milkweed or red milkweed. (I can't remember what the tags said at Barton Springs Nursery.) It's quite different than the A. tuberosa found in the tallgrass and blackland prairies, but it looks like they are both native to the East Austin area.

I'd like to get my hands on some tuberosa someday...

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