Milkweeds, Milkvines and Pipevines of Missouri

A few hardy wildflowers are blooming in the Ozarks. The milkweeds, milkvines and pipevines of Missouri are months away as they like it hot.

As wildflower season begins, I’m checking through my equipment. Camera and batteries. Tripod. Walking stick. Guidebooks.

Speaking of guidebooks, there is a new one out. Dr. Richard Rintz has completed his guidebook to the Milkweeds, Milkvines and Pipevines of Missouri.

cover for Milkweeds, Milkvines & Pipevines of Missouri by Dr. Richard E. Rintz

Wildflower enthusiasts know about milkweeds like common and purple and swamp. Gardeners may know butterfly weed, the orange milkweed. Missouri is home to fifteen milkweeds.

The four milkvines are around, but not as well known. Maybe I should amend that comment as Cynanchum laeve better known as sand vine, angle pod or blue vine is something of a nuisance once it moves in.

Milkvines that should be better known are the Mateleas or climbing milkweeds. These two vines are long vines adorned with flower clusters, one purple and the other white. They are not difficult to grow and come back year after year needing a trellis and little else.

angle pod flowers from Milkweeds, Milkvines and Pipevines of Missouri
Angle pod is one of four Missouri milkvines. The names milkweed and milkvine are from the thick white sap of the plants.

Pipevines are different. Missouri has two. Most common is one called Virginia snakeroot. It likes wooded hillsides and is difficult to spot even though it is a foot and more tall.

The second is known as Dutchman’s wooly breeches and is hard to miss along rivers when it’s around. The leaves are a foot across and heart-shaped.

pipevine flower from Milkweeds, Milkvines and Pipevines of Missouri
Looking at a pipevine flower from the side it’s easy to see where the name pipevine came from. The flower uses its shape to trap small insects inside for a day to cover them with pollen, then releases them to seek out another flower. The insects are well fed in return.

The flowers give the group the name of pipevine as they are shaped like a pipes. The Virginia snakeroot flowers are a brownish purple and near the ground as they are ant pollinated and ants cart the seeds away. Those up on the big vines are green and a couple of inches tall.

Milkweeds, Milkvines and Pipevines of Missouri has lots more information about these plants. The guidebook is full sized with large full color photographs to aid in identifying these plants.

These guidebooks are privately printed and spiral bound. Dr. Rintz has studied these plants extensively for many years. This guidebook is easy to use for any wildflower enthusiast.

Read sample pages from the guidebook Milkweeds, Milkvines and Pipevines of Missouri.