Butterfly Weed: Photogenic for Five Months

From May through September, I frequently check the Butterfly Weeds in Eliza Howell Park, camera handy. There are three major reasons why it is one of my favorite wildflowers and one that “wants” me to take its picture often.

First, the color of the flower clusters is atypical as well as vibrant. The park is filled with yellow and white and purple flowers, but very few other orange ones.

20180731_112400

Secondly, the flower is well-named. It is a magnet for butterflies, especially Monarchs. This year, I have found at least three Monarchs around and on the patch of Butterfly Weed pictured above every time I visited. Butterfly Weed is a member of the milkweed family, but Monarchs do not lay their eggs on it (they use only Common Milkweed). Butterfly Weed is for nectar.

20180725_150406

Good nectar flowers attract other pollinating insects as well. The Bumblebee is just one of a variety of insects that lead me to pull out my camera, especially when the “bugs” are seen against the background of orange blossoms.

20180704_123922

At this time of the summer, the beginning of August, most of the Butterfly Weed plants are transitioning from flowers to seed pods.

20180731_114244

Soon, the Butterfly Weed will “want” to have its picture taken again. Usually in September, the seed pods mature and seeds begin to disperse. Butterfly Weed seeds are spread by the wind and they are fascinating as they prepare to float or fly away.

In the next picture, the seed pod is just beginning to open to let out the silk-winged seeds. In the following two, the seeds are (almost) ready to be taken away by the next breeze.

20180731_113026

20170924_164912

20170924_164856

From its first bright orange flower to the silky seed dispersal, with a great many insects coming to it along the way, the Butterfly Weed has definitely won my full attention.