“What kind of plant is this? Is it native?” a Lyon County resident asked as we strolled past a flower garden during a farm visit. Virginia explained that she recently started growing a flower garden here and was not sure what it was. She did not want to keep it if it was a weed. I snapped this quick photo with my phone and told her that it was a milkweed, but that I would key it out and see if I could tell her more about it.
Based on what I could key from the photo, I identified it as Asclepias fascicularis, a narrowleaf milkweed. Milkweed plants are valuable habitat for Monarch butterflies and can be a great edition to your native plant flower garden. Xerces Society has great information on native plants and pollinators with a publication on Great Basin Native Milkweed.
Consider including milkweed plants in your flower gardens. Native milkweeds require less water than some other garden flowers. Anticipate that they might spread easily and remove seed pods prior to seeding to contain them. If you see monarch butterfly larvae, let them eat the milkweed and do not spray them with pesticide. Monarch butterflies have experienced a drastic loss in habitat. You can help by planting milkweeds in your garden in a pesticide free space.
Have a native plant that you want to know more about? Send me a picture! firstname.lastname@example.org