About a year ago a friend of mine was out trying to buy milkweeds for her gardens. That reminded me that I wanted a milkweed, too. I went searching but couldn’t find regular, everyday milkweeds at any of the nurseries. I’m thinking that, perhaps, if we were to rename them, say, butterfly bushes, the nurseries might carry them. Anyways……..
The last nursery I stopped at had an interesting tree near the checkout stand. Looked like this:
I wandered around the nursery looking for plants that I didn’t have, that I needed, that I wanted. I found a few, but I kept coming back to that tree with the Chinese lanterns hanging on it.
I had not seen any for sale so I asked about it. The plant lady told me that it was a Gomphocarpus physocarpus, that it was in the milkweed family, and that it always had monarch caterpillars and butterflies on it each year. She said she thought it was about ten years old.
I asked her if she had any for sale. She had “a few in back” so she went to get me one. It was just a little thing on July 17, 2018:
Here is what mine looked like on May 26 when I saw the first monarch butterfly on it:
It looks like this today, full of Chinese lanterns:
This thing blooms year-round, and I have seen monarch butterflies on it, lots of caterpillars, but no chrysalises. I’m thinking there might be some predators around who snack on the caterpillars before they can hide in their chrysalises.
Here is a 31-second video of a monarch caterpillar chomping down on it: