Spring wildflowers are blooming along the roads and up on the hills. Summer wildflowers are getting ready to bloom. I am already looking for milkweeds and finding them.
No, milkweeds are not blooming yet. They are growing. Would you recognize one?
Other than a few big milkweeds, would you recognize a milkweed flower? And what is a pipevine? Or a milkvine?
Some of these flowers make it into wildflower guidebooks. Most of them don’t as they are not big enough or common enough or colorful enough.
Guidebooks have their limitations as well. Each plant is given a small bit of room for a flower picture and a description.
When I go looking for milkweeds, I need some basic information. Habitat, size, leaf shape and arrangement come to mind. Some of this in online, if you have a smartphone, which I don’t.
Having looked through “Missouri’s Milkweeds, Milkvines and Pipevines” I know some of these and can easily check the pages to refresh my memory.
Milkweed plants have opposite or whorled leaves. The flowers are arranged like pentagons with five sides. Most live in sunny, meadow type areas.
Milkvines are climbing milkweeds. There are only two in Missouri. One is purple. The white one is only found in the southwest corner. They like wooded areas.
The two pipevines are very different from each other. One grows near rivers and has huge leaves, over a foot across, and green pipe-shaped flowers with purple fronts dangling from long, thick vines. The other is found in the woods and has a distinctive zigzag shape with purplish brown, pipe-shaped flowers on the ground.
Lots of information about these plants is stuffed into “Missouri’s Milkweeds, Milkvines and Pipevines”. When I go looking for milkweeds, I definitely want a copy in the truck for easy consultation.