The milkweed flower (Asclepias syriaca) is integral in supporting the monarch butterfly population and also provides nectar sources for adult butterflies, numerous pollinating insects such as native bees and honey bees, as well as hummingbirds.
“Our soul is like a soft and gentle flower, it needs to be nurtured, cared for, tended to, with sufficient sunlight, fresh air and freedom to bloom into its most precious and beautiful form.”
― Miya Yamanouchi
The monarch butterfly is one of the most widely recognized butterflies in North America, well known for its spectacular migrations. The monarch butterfly population in North America has plummeted by over 90% in just the last 20 years. Destruction of America’s grasslands ecosystems, commercial agricultural practices and even conventional gardening have all contributed to the precipitous decline of this iconic species.
One of the biggest factors in monarch decline is the increasing scarcity of its only caterpillar host plant: milkweed. Without milkweed, monarchs can’t successfully reproduce and the species declines.
"How does the meadow-flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free Down to its root, and in that freedom bold."
― William Wordsworth
Growing milkweed supplies larvae of the Monarch with food and shelter, providing caterpillars food and a resting place before they leave the caterpillar stage and become butterflies. As the plants can be toxic; consumption of the plant protects caterpillars from predators.
Anyone can help the monarch population recover by planting native milkweed in your own garden, landscape and throughout your community.