Illinois is Milkweed Country

I’m proud to say that my state just adopted Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) as its official wildflower (the official state flower is the Violet).

DSC_0821 monarch on swamp milkweed
Monarch on Rose Milkweed

I’m happy to see any effort to raise awareness of the fact that Milkweeds are the only plants that serve as hosts for Monarch Butterflies, and that an adequate supply of Milkweed is essential to reviving the population of these beautiful creatures.

Some of you are aware that my job is political in nature and involves working with the Illinois legislature. Since one reason I write this blog is to think about something other than work , I generally avoid politics here. However, in this case I’ll make an exception.

7 Milkweed Purple
Purple Milkweed

Milkweed’s elevated status in the Land of Lincoln is due to the work of State Representative Anna Moeller, who I can say from personal experience is a thoughtful legislator and a nice person. I think Rep. Moeller was wise to apply her bill to the entire Milkweed genus, thus avoiding an internecine battle between supporters of Butterflyweed (A. tuberosa), Rose Milkweed (A. incarnata), and other factions.

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Anna Moeller

She also had a bill that would have prohibited local governments from classifying Milkweed as a noxious weed, but it failed to pass the State Senate.

Butterflyweed
Butterflyweed. Gorgeous and easy, needs only sun and well-drained soil.

You wouldn’t think a bill to name Milkweed as the state wildflower would generate any opposition, but you would be wrong. An outfit calling itself the “Illinois News Network” distributed a story entitled “Proposal would make a weed the official state flower”. The Illinois News Network is actually a part of the political infrastructure created in this state over the past few years by the Koch brothers and like-minded misanthropes.

Anyway, the article calls Milkweed “a poisonous weed” and “an aggressive and invasive plant”. Oh, and it claimed that the proposal made Common Milkweed the state wildflower, but as noted above the designation applies to all species in the genus. C’mon, get your facts straight! Talk about your fake news!

DSC_0714 Monarch
Monarch on unopened Butterflyweed buds.

Hey, Charles and David Koch! You feel you aren’t doing enough damage already? Your work won’t be done until you get rid of Monarch Butterflies on top of everything else? Phooey on the both of you!

Anyhow, I’d like to think that this symbolic step will pave the way to more substantive action in the future. It’s a step in the right direction, at least.

 

38 Comments on “Illinois is Milkweed Country

  1. Back in the late 1980’s I asked out Township Board to get rid of purple loosestrife as the township flower. It must have been a slow news day cause I heard from a reporter at the Lansing Journal. We did change the flower and later introduced the Galerucella beetle to rid of us this invasive species. Having worked with our state legislator for many years I can honestly say that we do not always choose the brightest bulbs on the tree.

  2. I wonder how many people even see milkweed let alone think of it as invasive? How do people think these things? I am glad for IL to have made this step in the right direction despite the nay sayers.

  3. I’ve enjoyed seeing milkweed (of various sorts) along the roadsides here in Quebec (at the moment). These roadsides are impressively diverse, full of Joe-Pye, asters, milkweed, and others. It’s a stark contrast to our SE US roadsides!

    Thanks for the backstory about how milkweed became the state wildflower!

    • We were on the Gaspe Peninsula a couple of years ago in late August. The roadsides were as you describe them, though they looked a bit tired.

  4. How in the world does the state wildflower deserve the attention of the Koch bros? People amaze me. Not always in a good way, sadly. I spent some time this morning moving caterpillars off of decimated milk weeds and onto fresh, new delicious milk weeds. I thumb my nose in the Koch brothers general direction. Long live milk weed!

  5. Excellent, indeed! But those Koch! Is there nothing they won’t destroy? Why would they even care? Shame, shame!

  6. I am from IL as well. I love it when I see farmers mowing the sides of the road, cutting everything down but leaving stands of milkweeds. Makes me smile!

  7. My neighbor sprayed herbicide on milkweeds plants on MY side of the fence. When I tried to explain the importance of insects he said bees are dangerous because they sting people. Sadly, I can’t escape the madness even in my own backyard.

  8. A weed is a plant that is growing where you don’t want it–grass growing in my garden bed is a weed to me. If the Illinois News Network doesn’t want milkweed in their garden beds, they can pull it!

  9. Sightings of Monarchs in western Washington are very rare, possibly down to the eradication of milkweed on the path of migration south of us in Oregon. I’ve read that they are trying to re-establish milkweed, so maybe we’ll start seeing more of them. It’s so rare to read about a smart politician, sounds like you have a good one in Anna Moeller.

  10. The Illinois News Network is prejudiced. Some of my best friends are weeds. You’ll be glad to hear that while some bug ate 4 of my 6 milkweed grown from seed, my neighbor gave me a bunch of his MW rooted cuttings, and they are blooming! Coooommmmmeeee and get it, Monarchs ! Lunch is ready. (Gee, Colorado and California embrace weed…Oh but that’s a different kind of weed.–Sorry.) Tell Anne Moeller “thank you.”

  11. Congratulations to your state representative, Anna Moeller, for her good work. And, congratulations to Illionois for your official state flower, milkweed (all sorts).

  12. Apparently the Kochs won’t be happy until they’ve poked their golden fingers into every aspect of our lives. I’m with Laurie, I first thought, why would they care? And then it occurred to me that they have strong ties to Monsanto.

  13. Education, education, education! If we keep at it, eventually people will learn. Congratulations to Illinois for taking this important step. I hope it is not too late. It would help if we could give milkweed another common name that would stick.

  14. I’ve suddenly been seeing lots of monarchs lately, I’m happy to say. The ones I saw today were on Joe Pye weed.
    I’m sure the Koch brothers could make up a few lies about that “weed” too.

  15. At least you have got a good state representative … & hopefully people power will win out in the end… Frustrating all the same..

  16. This post gives me hope, here’s others following such a good lead! Well done Anna! I do love your monarchs, anything that helps them is fine by me. Goodness, how vibrant is that butterflyweed….stunning.xxx

  17. For some people, it’s all about the money, sadly. How wonderful that the milkweed was able to become the state wildflower! Very good news indeed! I have seen far more Monarchs up here in Massachusetts this year than the previous three years combined, and it fills me with hope.

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