Our native wildflowers - page 3

Wild ginger flowers
(Asarum canadense)
 ©Janet Allen Wild ginger flowers

If you look under the leaves of wild ginger, you see these intriguing flowers, nicknamed "little brown jugs."

Though no one would grow them for the flowers, it's fun to peek under the foliage to get a glimpse of them.

Poke milkweed
(Asclepias exaltata)
 ©Janet Allen Poke milkweed

Poke milkweed (not to be confused with pokeweed) is a milkweed that will grow in the shade. I have only one plant, but I've found monarch eggs on it, so it looks like a small patch would be a good choice for someone who had only a shade garden.

** SPECIAL VALUE TO NATIVE BEES **
** SPECIAL VALUE TO BUMBLE BEES **
** Attracts predatory or parasatoid insects that prey upon pest insects **
More info from Wildflower Center

Swamp milkweed
(Asclepias incarnata)
 ©Janet Allen Swamp milkweed

I have more swamp milkweed than any other kind of milkweed. Not only is it a beautiful plant for the garden, it seems to be one of the monarch's favorite types of milkweed.

It's useful for gardens since it doesn't spread underground, as does common milkweed. I do find volunteers here and there, but not as many as I would like. Contrary to its name, it does not need to grow in wet areas, though it certainly can.

Wildlife: Butterflies, hummingbirds
Larval host: Monarch butterfly, Queen butterfly
Deer resistance: High
** SPECIAL VALUE TO NATIVE BEES **
** SPECIAL VALUE TO BUMBLE BEES **
** Attracts predatory or parasatoid insects that prey upon pest insects **
More info from Wildflower Center

Purple milkweed
(Asclepias purpurascens)
 ©Janet Allen Purple milkweed

This is gorgeous. I have one plant, but I hope for many more. It will be interesting to see how appealing it is to monarchs. I bought this a few years ago, and I haven't noticed any eggs laid on it yet. It's very slowly spreading by rhizomes underground, but never sets seed. I've read that there must be an unrelated plant around for it to set seed, so that's probably why. I'll try to get another one somewhere—not easy since they're not often available for sale, probably because they don't set seed!

Wildlife: Butterflies
** SPECIAL VALUE TO NATIVE BEES **
** SPECIAL VALUE TO BUMBLE BEES **
** Attracts predatory or parasatoid insects that prey upon pest insectsL **
More info from Wildflower Center

Common milkweed
(Asclepias syriaca)
 ©Janet Allen Common milkweed

Common milkweed is an attractive, though perhaps not a refined-looking plant. Monarchs definitely love it.

The problem having it in the garden is that it spreads underground, so it's hard to keep it in one spot. It's also quite large.

I have some in one spot in my garden and try to keep it there, but it's very useful as food for the monarch caterpillars I raise.

One thing it has that my other milkweeds don't have is a heavenly fragrance.

Wildlife: Butterflies
Larval host: Monarch butterflies
** SPECIAL VALUE TO NATIVE BEES **
** SPECIAL VALUE TO BUMBLE BEES **
** Attracts predatory or parasatoid insects that prey upon pest insects **
More info from Wildflower Center

Sullivant's milkweed
(Asclepias sullivantii)
 ©Janet Allen Sullivant's milkweed

This is actually native farther to the west since it's more common in the prairie. Both the leaves and the flowers are of a very heavy substance. I only have one plant, but I've had it for a number of years and have seen very few monarch eggs or caterpillars on this plant, possibly because the leaves are so thick. If I were a monarch caterpillar, I'd prefer the more tender swamp milkweed leaves, too!

Wildlife: Butterflies
Larval host: Monarch butterflies
** SPECIAL VALUE TO NATIVE BEES **
** SPECIAL VALUE TO BUMBLE BEES **
** Attracts predatory or parasatoid insects that prey upon pest insects **
More info from Wildflower Center

Butterfly weed
(Asclepias tuberosa)
 ©Janet Allen Butterfly weed

This is another very gardenworthy type of milkweed. Like swamp milkweed, but unlike common milkweed, it doesn't spread underground. Its bright orange color is striking (and especially appropriate here in Syracuse University orange country!) The leaves are a quite thick and a little hairier than other milkweeds, which may be why I don't see as many monarchs laying eggs on it, though this isn't everyone's experience.

Wildlife: Butterflies, hummingbirds
Larval host: Monarch, Queen, Grey hairstreak
Deer resistance: High
** SPECIAL VALUE TO NATIVE BEES **
** SPECIAL VALUE TO BUMBLE BEES **
** Attracts predatory or parasatoid insects that prey upon pest insectsL **
More info from Wildflower Center

Whorled milkweed
(Asclepias verticillata)
 ©Janet Allen Whorled milkweed

This is a very delicate-looking milkweed. It's quite short, and has very narrow leaves. I don't know if any monarch would lay its eggs on such a slight plant, but it's pretty anyway. I've had to give it a space where it won't be overrun by more substantial plants.

Wildlife: Butterflies
Larval host: Monarch
** SPECIAL VALUE TO NATIVE BEES **
** SPECIAL VALUE TO BUMBLE BEES **
** Attracts predatory or parasatoid insects that prey upon pest insects **
More info from Wildflower Center

Sky blue aster
(Aster azureus)
 ©Janet Allen Sky blue aster

The botanical name has been changed to Symphyotrichuym oolentangiensis or Aster oolentangiensis, but I'm content calling it by its old botanic name. They seem to keep changing these names as they analyze the genetics of these plants, and I've concluded that it isn't going to make a difference to me as a habitat gardener. Besides, all my plant reference books have the old names.

All of these asters are wonderful for wildlife, besides providing lots of fall color. Most are quite tall, so I've been experimenting with cutting some back in June. It not only keeps them smaller, but also makes them bushier. Aster do reseed themselves generously, so I'm trying to learn to recognize the various types, so I can pull extras out in the spring. Otherwise, I'd soon be overrun with asters.

Wildlife: Butterflies
** SPECIAL VALUE TO NATIVE BEES **
More info from Wildflower Center (aka Symphyotrichum oolentangiense)