Indian Milkweed (8 photos)

There’s a spot along the Piedras Pintadas trail at Lake Hodges where Indian Milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa) grows. It’s a really pretty plant (poisonous though!), plus the flowers smell absolutely wonderful – like fruit with vanilla, perhaps. Well, smells are hard to describe. The plant got its name from the white sap that is coming out when a part of the plant (leaf etc.) breaks off. It’s also known as Woolypod milkweed and Kotolo.

Many Milkweeds are poisonous – and Monarch butterflies primarily feed on them. The butterflies collect the Milkweed toxins in their bodies, and when birds eat the butterflies, they get poisoned – so they learned to avoid the Monarchs, which protects the butterflies during their migration. Fascinating nature stuff!

Anyway, I knew where it would be growing and where to look from previous years, but I didn’t expect it to be growing so slow. I saw the first plants quite a while ago, and made the photos of the plants that already had flower buds at the end of April. I was thinking it wouldn’t be much longer – but only this week the buds finally opened and the flowers came out. It was worth the wait and the frequent returns to this trail!

Scroll down to see more photos, or if you’re using a larger desktop/laptop screen, click any image to open the slideshow viewer:

As usual with my macros/close-ups, all photos hand-held with the 105mm VR Micro Nikkor and the camera in Auto-ISO.

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