Saturday, August 14, 2010

(Day 226) If you're cold ...

I sometimes do a little research on subjects that I post here. Most times I'm surprised at the tidbits of information I discover. We have a substantial patch of milkweed growing just to the west of the house - it wasn't there when we moved here about 7 years ago. You probably wouldn't want this on a city lot, but on 77 acres I can leave it as a point of interest. If you've never smelled the fragrance of milkweed in bloom then you need to experience it next spring.

Apparently milkweed is a source of food for monarch butterfly larvae. But what surprised me was that the hairs on which the seeds are distributed by the wind are excellent for use as a hypoallergenic (non allergy producing) insulator, even better than down feathers. In fact over 5,000 tons were collected and used in WWII for this purpose - that's a LOT of milkweed seed pods if you've ever seen them!

(by the way, my blog header shows hairs and seeds from a ripened pod about to be launched on their mission)

(70-200mm  f8  1/125 sec  ISO200)

an early-opened pod with a bug trapped inside:















(70-200mm  f8  1/40 sec  ISO200)
 most of ours are like these - not ripe yet:













(70-200mm  f5  1/50 sec  ISO200)
a seed attached to the hairs - ready for flight:

17 comments:

darlin said...

This is so interesting Rick, I never knew anything about milkweed before I read your post... now I can say I learned something new today. :-) The hairs on the weed are so fine, almost like a Pomeranian,that's what it reminds me of. Awesome photos Rick, you make your pictures come to life, amazing shots!

CarreraCaballo said...

Interesting Info and beautiful closeups :-)
I wonder if they have them here in Europe!!!

Greetz,

Joseph

becky said...

Interesting photos, Rick... I especially like the last one. Interesting facts, too. Perhaps you have a project- you could collect enough Milkweed to make a Jacket for the coming winter!
:)

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Fascinating info.This post reminded me to check on a patch of milkweed we found last year,at the right time it would make for some great photo ops.
Blessings,Ruth

Rick said...

@darlin - thank you Darlene; there were some facts I didn't know either !

Hope your weekend was a good one.

Rick said...

@CarreraCaballo - thank you Joseph; apparently there are about 100 varieties world wide, so likely a few in Europe too.

Rick said...

@becky - thanks Becky !

LOL - I might just have enough milkweed to do that ;-) I think it could quickly become a full-time job though! Maybe I should apply for a government grant :)

Rick said...

@Ruth's Photo Blog - I forgot to make some photos while they were in bloom - next year! Yes, you can get some great shots when the pods dry and split and the hairs start flying around.

marty said...

de belles images, toute douces !
bisous

bonifer said...

Nice shots, Rick !! I gotta get out there and find some milkweed! Your photos give me inspiration !! :)

Rick said...

@marty - merci beaucoup marty! Have a great week; bisous !!

Rick said...

@bonifer - thank you; they do make great subjects - esp. when they're blowin' in the wind !

Lisa RedWillow said...

Very Very beautiful. Wildflowers are so very interesting and unique. Hope all is well with you.

Lisa RedWillow said...

PS .. Its cool at night already in Alberta and we have had a lot of rain. Fall is in the air with a slight change in the leaves already.

Rick said...

@Lisa RedWillow - thank you Lisa; I agree - wildflowers make very good photo subjects. That's a bit unusual for so much rain in Alberta in August - I recall putting the lawnmower away in July and getting it out again in Sept (we lived just west of Calgary). I'm hoping summer hangs in for a while yet.

Thanks for stopping by Lisa!

Julia said...

Could you not find a monarch in the milkweed? Beautiful pictures though!

Rick said...

@Julia - sorry Julia, there weren't any there. I still have to get a butterfly one of these days!