This flower is from the milkweed plant. There are over 1000 different types, this is known as Common Milkweed. They grow to about 5′ tall. They contain a milky substance giving them their name. It is a poisonous substance that makes birds detest eating Monarch butterflies.
Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the underside of their leaves. When the caterpillars emerge they feast on the leaves. It has been two years since I have seen Monarchs and the caterpillars in my Maine garden. Their population is in jeopardy as a result of severe climate changes and logging in Mexico. I found it fascinating to watch these eating machines devour the leaves, and move through the life cycle. When the new butterflies are ready they then make their way down to Mexico. I would like to find out what GPS they use. My GPS sends me down one way streets.
If you have never taken the time to smell these flowers…..you are passing up a gift for the senses. I think it smells like the most intense Lilacs you have ever inhaled. Bees love them. The scent attracts them but the nectar is what keeps them coming back.
So what does this have to do with fiber….after the flower has run its course a pod develops. In this pod are short shiny fibers that are fire resistant. Since the fibers are short, it is best to spin with a fiber of longer length. Unfortunately it does not have good dyeing capabilities. If you want to give this a spin, collect the pods while they are still green. Inside the pod you will see seeds amongst the fiber, pick out the seeds, card up the fiber and spin.
At the beginning of the blog I had in mind to just put it out there and not to try it myself, but now I am looking forward to giving it a try. Another month and I can start gathering seed pods. I will keep you posted. Let me know if you have tried it and/ or you plan to. I would love to see pictures.
Now go out and smell a milkweed.