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The Year the Monarch didn't Appear

 
steward
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Here is a sad article about the monarch and other pollinators. Enough to give you ulcers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/sunday-review/the-year-the-monarch-didnt-appear.html?_r=0
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Sad indeed.

The article made several mentions of Douglas Tallamy.
Here is a very good overview of his mission on this subject: "Bringing Nature Home" - Douglas Tallamy



 
pollinator
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For the literary minded, I recommend Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.

In what may be the first novel to realistically imagine the near-term impact of “global weirding,” Barbara Kingsolver sets her latest story in rural Appalachia . In fictional Feathertown, Tennessee, Dellarobia Turnbow--on the run from her stifling life--charges up the mountain above her husband’s family farm and stumbles onto a “valley of fire” filled with millions of monarch butterflies. This vision is deemed miraculous by the town’s parishioners, then the international media. But when Ovid, a scientist who studies monarch behavior, sets up a lab on the Turnbow farm, he learns that the butterflies’ presence signals systemic disorder--and Dellarobia's in-laws’ logging plans won’t help. Readers who bristle at politics made personal may be turned off by the strength of Kingsolver’s convictions, but she never reduces her characters to mouthpieces, giving equal weight to climate science and human need, to forces both biological and biblical. Her concept of family encompasses all living beings, however ephemeral, and Flight Behavior gracefully, urgently contributes to the dialogue of survival on this swiftly tilting planet. --Mari Malcolm
 
garden master
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I suspect that there would be so much more milkweed around for the monarchs if people would just recognize what great vegetables it makes.....it's a perennial edible with stacking functions, 3 of which are great vegetables...spring shoots, flower buds and young pods!  After reading Sam Thayer's books and learning that I didn't have to do 3x boiling with common milkweed I decided I'd like to add it to one of the sunny zones in my forest garden....and then it showed up by itself!!!  Nothing like a native perennial edible whose seeds blow in on the wind.  So I left it alone and now there's a nice clump there.  

I highly recommend Sam Thayer's books.  For a bit more on cooking with milkweed check out this site.  If we all started growing and enjoying milkweed in our edible landscapes the monarchs wouldn't know what to do with all the clumps along their flight paths :)



 
master steward
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Thanks for sharing, Greg.  Those are beautiful pictures.

Are only the Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca edible?  I have not tried growing that variety.
 
Greg Martin
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Anne, I've only ever eaten A. syriaca, but in Sam Thayer's book, The Forager's Harvest, he also recommends showy milkweed, A. speciose, and poke milkweed, A. exaltata.  He also warns that there are bitter and toxic milkweed species to avoid such as A. amplexicaulis, the blunt-leaf milkweed.  Since it's extremely bitter it should be easy to avoid....don't eat bitter milkweed!  That will also help you avoid eating dogbane shoots.

showy milkweed


poke milkweed
 
Posts: 10
Location: Mendocino Co. Calif. zone 9
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Thanks, Greg. I am glad to find out some milkweeds are edible. Showy milkweed is native here in N. Calif. and I have started growing it. I thought that they are all poisonous as the caterpillars and butterflies are poisonous to birds because that is all they eat when larva. I'll look up that link.
Your pictures are beautiful. Would you allow parts of them to be used as models for my pencil drawings of Monarchs and Ladybugs in a comic book I'm making?
~Lydia
 
Greg Martin
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Hi Lydia, these photos are linked in from Google searching.  I just wanted to make sure people knew what they all look like.  I'm happy to add in links if that would be of any help.
 
Lydia Feltman
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Thanks Greg. That would be great. I have trepidation about using pics. from online searches that are too close to the original and someone may object in the future.
I'm glad to give credit to the amazing photographs that are now possible with technology and the patience and art of the photographer.
~Lydia
 
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On my island, the dairymen consider milkweed to be deadly poisonous to cattle (this is the tropical milkweed, Asclepias cuassavica and a white flowered species, Asclepias nivea), so encouraging its growth would not be good for community relations. Which is sad, because we have the monarch here, as well as the queen and the soldier, its relatives.
 
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