Jim Hawkins' Butterfly Milkweed Photo Page
Holmdel Park, NJ
|Just before I got married in 1991, my fiancé and I decided to take a trip to meet her parents in Cincinnati,
Ohio, her home of origin. The drive from the New Jersey coast would lead us to take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to
I-70, then to Wheeling, WV to Ohio. I had lived in NJ for most of my life and had never seen Butterfly Milkweed.
As we passed into the WV and Eastern Ohio region, I was fascinated with the multitude of iridescent orange wild
flower groupings I saw in fields along the highway.
I had taken many walks in our Monmouth County parks before, but I hadn't seen them. At some point I began to notice
them and it gave me the opportunity to photograph them. My Canon 20D digital camera and a 100 mm macro lens allowed
me to take some 1:1 close-ups of the blossoms. In these photos, I used the built in flash, and settings of f32
and shutter speed of 1/200 sec. at ISO 400.
Click on Thumbnails to magnify
|Early blossoms, light pink with dark,
|Blossoms, turn yellow, just before
These are in our back yard next to our red shed, grown from seed.
|I have found that in the wild, these tend to grow at the bottom of slopes probably where more water collects,
however, the ones I seeded in my back yard are growing fine. One observation, however, is that the ones in the
wild (from which I harvested the seed), are deeper purple than mine, where the soil is drier.
This group was seeded along our driveway.
Tropical Milkweed (also known as Bloodflower)
|This Variety grows as a perennial in the warmer climates, but can be planted as an annual in the colder climates.
I ordered eight of these plants from butterflybushes.com
at a very reasonable price. According to the tag, it may survive the winters in frost
zone 7-10. The NJ coast is included in frost zone 7. It will be most interesting to see if they come
back next year, but they are definitely worth ordering for planting if you appreciate them.
|Butterflies lay their eggs in the milkweed flower. The caterpillars, that hatch feed on the plant, which contains
a toxic sap (milk). The bitter sap makes the caterpiller less desirable for preditors.
Red and Orange
Other forms of milkweed: Tropical (Asclepias curassavica) or "Blood-flower," Desert Milkweed (Asclepias
subulata) Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens)
All photos on this page ©2005 JAMES P. HAWKINS. Send e-mail to discuss fees for use in publications.
||times since August 15, 2005.