Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


Photo © Sylvia Garcia-Smith


Green Antelope Horn Milkweed Vital for Monarchs

When you think about planting to attract pollinators, consider color and shape. Bees seem to be attracted to blues and violets; hummingbirds prefer reds and pinks. Butterflies flock to yellows and oranges. Consider time of day: nighttime pollinators are attracted to night bloomers.

But sometimes it’s neither flashy color nor rare nighttime blooming that marks a most necessary pollinator plant. The low-lying, inconspicuous, green-flowering antelope horn milkweed is one of our most important native plants, as it feeds monarchs, soldiers and queens, among other butterflies and pollinators.

With monarch demise at the forefront of pollinator news these days, there has been a lot of attention given to planting milkweed to assist this winged migrator on its journey. The slender, green leaves of milkweed are the primary food source for monarch caterpillars, while the high-glucose nectar is essential for feeding the adult butterflies. They even lay their eggs on the plant.

A bustle of green and creamy beige flowers, with purple accenting the center of each, originate from a single stem, standing in clusters along Texas roads and fields. This milkweed gets its name from seed pods that look similar to the horns of an antelope.

Green antelope horn milkweed, otherwise known as spider or green milkweed, is the most common milkweed scattered across Texas. This perennial plant flowers from May to August and is featured from the deep East into the Edwards Plateau.

Green antelope horn milkweed is in decline because of loss of habitat and the use of weed killers in agricultural fields. Luckily, milkweed seeds are commonly available and relatively easy to grow; plant in early fall.

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