This diminutive plant is somewhat nondescript...from afar.
In a field surrounded by tall grasses, Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)--at 1 ft. to 2 ft. tall--tends to blend in.
But if you look closely, it's a rather lovely, delicate plant. Like other Milkweeds, the umbels of its closed flower buds open to distinctive-shaped blooms with a unique pollination structure.
It's an attractive plant in all stages of development--from emergence to budding to full bloom. And it's hardy in USDA zones 4-8.
Plus, it has the added benefits of being a larval host for the monarch butterfly and it's recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of native bees, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
Whorled Milkweed is toxic to livestock and horses if eaten in large quantities. It grows best in dry sandy, clay, or rocky soils, and in sun or part shade, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It's not the best plant for my garden, but ... maybe I can find a place for it. (These photos were taken on our "wild" lake property to the north.)
When you look down through the foliage, you can see how Whorled Milkweed got its name. Frankly, I'm a bit fascinated with it at the moment.
(I'm linking this post to Dozens for Diana and Foliage Follow-Up. Thanks, Diana and Pam, for hosting these excellent memes!)