Milkweed babies

Milkweed babies, the seeds of Asclepias syriaca, ready to be launched by the wind. © BCP 2010

One thing in Ontario in autumn is as certain as death and taxes: If you open your door and head outside to any vacant lot,  you will surely see milkweed babies — the seeds of Asclepias syriaca, or common milkweed.

In every single milkweed plant — each a remarkable baby-making factory — lies  a botany lesson, an invertebrate zoology lesson and countess ecology classes. And the plant’s good-sized seeds, each with its own silken parachute attached, inspired today’s quote of the day.

Milkweed seeds burst out of their cradle, er, pod. © BCP 2010

Milkweed Babies

Dainty milkweed babies, wrapped in cradles green,

Rocked by Mother Nature, fed by hands unseen.

Brown coats have the darlings, slips of milky white

And wings — but that’s a secret —they’re folded out of sight.

The cradles grow so narrow, what will the babies do?

They’ll only grow the faster, and look up toward the blue.

And now they’ve found the secret, they’re flying through the air,

They’ve left the cradles empty — do milkweed babies care?

This poem, which apparently was sung by mothers rocking their babies several generations ago, is attributed to an early 20th-century primer. Even with some concerted effort digging on the Internet, I was unable to find out the author of this poem/cradle song. It repeatedly turns up in searches as author unknown. (But if anyone does know, please advise so that I can give proper credit.)

Below is another fruiting plant that releases its offspring the same way. A plant, like the common milkweed, as common as dirt.  I’m still trying to nail down what this plant is. As always, any info gratefully received.

© BCP 2010

Seeds on the launch pad, seen at the Quarry last week. © BCP 2010

Libby - October 26, 2010 - 9:24 am

I love that you see the beauty in things as common as milkweed.
Gorgeous pictures!

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