Yesterday, I set out to look for milkweed plants. The first place that I headed was to Urban Roots, on the city’s West Side. After walking around for a bit with my dog (the place is dog friendly), I finally came across an Urban Roots employee by the name of Bridget (lead image). She told me that they did indeed have milkweed. She also informed me that the milkweed plants, along with other indigenous plants, were grown by People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH). I had no idea that PUSH was involved with growing and selling native pollinators. Bridget also told me that the “swamp milkweed” that I was purchasing was a flowering version called “asclepias incarnata”. I was not aware of this type of milkweed, as the one that I was familiar with grew in sandy, beach areas, and looked more like this.
The monarch butterfly population in North America has plummeted by over 90% in just the last 20 years.
After I got home and planted the milkweed, I went to my computer to look up “different types of native milkweed”. When the search results came up, I found that there were a number of different types, and many of them were very beautiful. I always felt that milkweed had two strikes against it, which is why so many people pulled it… 1) The name “milkweed” denotes that it’s a weed, so it’s got to be bad. 2) It’s not known for its beauty.
The milkweed plants that I came across were not only colorful, they’re all vital to the survival of the monarch butterfly.
We are very fortunate to have milkweed available for sale at Urban Roots. I must also give a hat tip to PUSH Buffalo, for the stupendous effort to grow the plant. Now, if we can all do our part by planting some milkweed in our yards, we might be able to help the monarch butterfly slowly recover from adverse effects due to “destruction of America’s grasslands ecosystems, commercial agricultural practices and even conventional gardening (see here).” It’s time that we rethink what we are pulling and planting in our yards, and consider planting beautiful native pollinators instead.
If you’re looking to stock up on milkweed, be sure to phone ahead to see if it’s available. Urban Roots has apparently been selling the plants as fast as they arrive. Also, if you want to be even more proactive in helping to save the monarch butterfly, then be sure to “like” and follow Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm right here in WNY. The butterfly farm sets up at farmer’s markets around the region, teaching people about the importance of monarch conservation. The farm also sells milkweed and monarch caterpillars. It’s time to be proactive, when it comes to taking a stand for native pollinators.
There’s one last item of interest when it comes to preserving and protecting native habitats. Often times, we at BRO get notices from real estate agents stating that they have “vacant” land for sale, when in reality it’s not vacant at all. Rather, it’s occupied by trees, birds, animals, etc. We must stop portraying our forested lands as “vacant”, because it’s not.
Urban sprawl is contributing to the problematic issues that the environment is facing. It’s time that we reevaluate what lands are actually “vacant” (parking lots), and what lands are visibly “occupied” (wooded acres).