Showy Milkweed Shine with Their Pretty Pink Flowers

Showy Milkweed star shaped flowers and pink buds.

Showy Milkweed may not be on most people’s radar when it comes to photographing or observing wildflowers. Blooming prickly pears are generally taking center stage at this time. But given their importance to pollinator’s such as Monarch butterflies, I believe they deserve some time in the limelight. Plus they are considered classic American wildflowers.

I find their fuzzy pink buds and spheres of pretty, little pink flowers quite beautiful. And they give off a very soft fragrance – something I had not noticed before. Each season brings a new Nature discovery. I love that!

A Lovely Perennial Wildflower

Unfolding pink milkweed flowers.
Showy Milkweed with its pink flowers and fuzzy buds.

With their broad grey-green leaves, the plants begin to appear around early June. They grow to about three to four feet tall. And as a perennial wildflower, they do spread.

Slowly but surely, you begin to see the plants topped with clusters of fuzzy pink buds. These will ultimately give way to globes of star-shaped flowers in various shades of soft pink.

Getting so close to photograph them allows you to see their unique shape and details. I love how these little flowers unfold. Sometimes it’s just one flower surrounded by its pink buds which wait their turn to bloom.

The flowers themselves really are quite intricate.

Over time I’ve discovered patches of Showy Milkweed growing in areas that allow me to get up close. Otherwise many patches of plants can be tricky to get to. You used to find them growing happily in the xeric gardens but for whatever reason they removed all of them – bummer! 

Fuzzy pink Milkweed buds
Fuzzy pink buds above and flowering plants to the right.
Showy Milkweed plants with flowers and buds.

Showy Milkweed Benefits Pollinators

Honey bee on braod green leaf.
Honey bee checking out the flowers to find just the right one!

Known as the sole food Monarch caterpillars feed on, they are not the only ones to benefit from these plants and flowers. Honey bees keep busy on these little flowers as soon as they open. As always, I love observing these little fellas at work. Moving from flower to little flower, they seem to know which one is just right. It’s kinda like Goldilocks!

Honey bee on milkweed flowers.
This little guy is busy on one of the pink flowers.

This season I was blessed with a unique butterfly event on the flowers. A kind soul pointed out an area where I would find a patch of Showy Milkweed growing. Given the location he described it was not a far walk. The patch was down in a little, rocky, ravine. Initially I thought maybe not. But then a big, yellow Swallowtail butterfly showed up and landed on the flowers. Since I literally had seconds if I wanted to capture a shot, there was a sense of urgency to the moment. Let’s just say it gave new meaning to the phrase “when Nature calls!” 

Yellow Swallowtail butterfly peeking out from behind flowers.
Yellow Swallowtail butterfly peeking from bheind the flowers.
Yellow Swallowtail butterfly gahering nectar from milkweed flowers.
Yellow Swallowtail butterfly with its proboscis extended into the flower.

The flowers will still be blooming for a while yet and I’ll enjoy the butterflies and bees that visit them. It will be some time  before they undergo their unique transformation into their signature alien looking pods. Think the old sci-fi classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Ideally I’ll capture some “pod” photos when the time is right 🙂

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