Thursday, June 28, 2007


I’ve recently been intrigued by milkweed also known as Asclepias. While it grows as its name as a weed implies, as I’ve watched it go through its stages of growth, I see that it is a very utilitarian plant to the environment around it. Most namely, bees and butterflies relish in this plant as a food and shelter source. The white pinkish flowers that bud on this “weed”, are in small bunches and provide ample opportunity for feeding bees. The particular variety of milk weed plant that I’ve observed started out of the ground and is now at least 4 feet in height. It seems to take over the area that it proliferates, and seems to steal sunlight and nutrients from others, but still allows plants such as coriander and fennel to grow. The leaves on the milk weed are very large, and it reminds me of the way grape leaves attempt to cover as much surface area as possible in order to absorb as much sunlight as possible. In any event, while some call this a weed, it seems to contribute much to the local ecosystem, is native to most of its environs, and grows so fast that it fascinates. I can’t wait until the pods come out and the butterfly cocoons hatch.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Flowers that are Edible

The weather is nice, and that means it's time to spend time outdoors in the garden or on the trails, or in the parks. Finding and eating edible flowers can be one of the many enjoyable outdoor activities. Commonly known edibles are roses, daisies, and violas. For safety from pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals, one should ensure that the petals are free from other human intervention - such as at parks or along manicured walkways. I've seen orchid petals garnished on dishes at restaurants, and the waitstaff usually indicates that they are safe to eat, but they are taking the word of the sales person, and that sales person is probably taking someone else's word for it, so I tend to stay away from eating these. Besides, chances are this orchid probably had much human intervention on its way to that plate, and that usually means chemicals or pesticides. For more on edible flowers, take a look at Iowa State University's Ten Rules for Edible Flowers.