This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Friday, July 15, 2011

July bloomers

The little wetlands area north of the high school has interesting flowers. Below is a milkweed that does not look like a milkweed. It is called Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) or simply Butterfly Weed.

The genus name, Asclepias, is the name of the Greek god of healing, and the various milkweed plants were thought to have desirable medicinal properties. One place you meet Asclepias is in Plato's account of the trial and death of Socrates. Plato has Socrates utter the words, "Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Do pay it. Don't forget." And by that Plato is having Socrates suggest that death is the cure for life. (Xenophon's account of the trial and death of Socrates has a rather different take on it all.)
Butterfly weed is often grown in the flower garden.

Another plant I noticed there is White Wild Indigo, Baptisia alba macrophylla. I met this plant after it had died down for the winter and thought its seed pods were interesting. It is a legume, a relative of the bean and pea, but a toxic relative. Livestock can become sick it they eat too much.
The leaves have a resemblance to clover, another legume.
It is sometimes grown as an ornamental. It is a perennial, so once established, it comes back year after year.

Now that I have seen it in captivity, I look forward to finding it in the wild.

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