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September 29, 2008 / Bo Mackison

Milkweed Fluff

Milkweed in Autumn

Milkweed in Autumn

The Common Milkweed, a native plant in Wisconsin, has rough textured pods that contain thousands of seeds attached to strands of silky down. As the pods split in autumn, the seeds open like tiny parachutes and travel on wind currents to a new site to seed.

This silky stuff has been used creatively throughout the years. Settlers in the 1700s and early 1800s used the fluff to fill their pillows and mattresses. In the 1860s, thread from the down was made into socks and purses. During World War II, schoolchildren collected milkweed pods and the pods were sent to central processing locations. The down was used to fill life preservers and to line the uniforms of the United States Air Force. Milkweed down is extremely bouyant and a few pounds of this spinnery stuff can keep a 150 pound person afloat in water.

7 Comments

  1. nancybond / Sep 29 2008 9:41 am

    Some very interesting uses for a very unique plant. The Common Milkweed grows abundantly here as well.

  2. ceanothe / Sep 29 2008 3:03 pm

    Comme une mâchoire de dragon, bien !
    Like a dragon jaw, though!

  3. Marcie / Sep 29 2008 5:36 pm

    Looks like a little tongue sticking out. Beautiful image!

  4. Debi / Sep 29 2008 5:53 pm

    Exquisite photo – well done! I love this!

  5. ybonesy / Sep 29 2008 10:03 pm

    WOW, I thought it was an upside down baby bird looking for food. What an amazing shot!

  6. Anna Surface / Sep 30 2008 8:00 am

    Well, I’ll be… I wonder if that was what I had taken a photo of and called seedpods. That is a way cool shot! Neat perspective with its mouth open. I didn’t know about the history of the silky stuff! Very neat and informative post. 🙂

  7. Gandalf / Sep 30 2008 1:46 pm

    It looks like it’s ready to spit the seeds into the air. Very cool.

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