The milkweed seeds

These seeds determine the survival of an entire species

November 6, 2015

Jaymi Heimbuch

Photo: loreta rumsey/MNN Flickr Group

These milkweed seeds may look like a simple, beautiful seed — but there’s more at stake.

We’re rooting for them to sprout and flourish because their success determines not only the future of the milkweed plant, but also the future of the monarch butterfly. And there’s something important about milkweed seeds that all gardeners and butterfly lovers need to know.

Monarchs are entirely dependent on milkweed for survival. It is the only plant on which monarchs lay their eggs, and that monarch caterpillars feed on milkweed as they grow. It’s also the plant that helps make the butterfly toxic to predators, protecting it from being eaten. But widespread use of herbicides and the conversion of land for farming has caused a 21 percent decline in the plant in the United States between 1995 and 2013. Read more.