Did anyone spot something unusual in the caterpillar photos last week? No?
Does this help? I have circled a butterfly egg on the underside of the milkweed flower bud. It is probably a queen butterfly egg, although it might also be a monarch. Both types have been visiting the plant.
In fact, the queens and monarchs were having what seemed to be aerial “battles” over the rush milkweed plant. One butterfly would be resting on the plant and another would fly nearby. The butterfly on the plant would fly up to meet the interloper and they would flutter around each other. Shortly one, usually the visitor, would fly off quickly. I had read that butterflies can be territorial, but I hadn’t seen it in action before.
Speaking of butterfly territory, I had the opportunity to visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens last weekend. The garden has an exhibit they call Butterfly Magic.
This particular exhibit is not large, but has a number of different species of butterflies.
The longer I looked, the more different kinds I saw.
Even on my shoe.
The flowers were not shabby either.
Have you been to a butterfly exhibit? Where is your favorite?
This week’s mystery seeds are from western New York.
These are roughly the size of small apple seeds.
Perhaps the fruit will give you a hint?
Do you recognize what plant these seeds are from? If you choose to, please leave a comment with your ideas.
New mystery seeds and Seed of the Week answers are posted on Tuesdays.
Our mystery seeds last week were indeed from garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata.
Garlic mustard is a biennial. The first year it is low-growing with rounded leaves, forming what is called the rosette stage.
(Illustration from Wikimedia)
The second year it shoots up. The leaves are often more pointed in shape.
(Photograph from Wikimedia)
The two-year-old plant produces clusters of white flowers and then the long seed pods.
Garlic mustard is a classic example of a plant that has “gone wild” when introduced to a new place. Originally from the Old World, people brought the seeds of garlic mustard to North America. Without all of its natural enemies, garlic mustard spread and took over from native plants. In the last few decades it has erupted and is now considered to be an invasive weed in many areas (see for example, Washington state).
On the other side of the coin, it is also considered to be edible. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has an essay about eating garlic mustard and a recipe.
Personally, I think eating weedy species can be a bit of a lottery. Many of these plants are well-defended chemically. The amount of defensive chemicals can vary from plant to plant and place to place, and how we react to the chemicals can vary from person to person. That’s not to say I’ve never eaten wild plants, but I would suggest informed caution.
What do you think? Have you ever tried garlic mustard?