Friday, April 27, 2007

Showy Milkweed

We only had a brief experience with Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), but it was very encouraging. I brought a seed home in my camping gear that landed in my flower bed. I was curious about the weed that I normally see in the mountains that now grew voluntarily in my yard on the plains. It is known to be edible to humans and as it grew I realized that the bees, monarch butterflies, and aphids liked it very well. So, I allowed it to remain in existence long enough to conduct a food trial on the leaves. I took a single broad mature leaf and dried it. Two crabs devoured all but the thick center vein in one night. No adverse affects. I look forward to harvesting much more of this on my next camp trip and conducting further trials on the seeds, flowers, etc.
Showy milkweed grows rather abundantly across much of the USA. It contains a milky juice that is reported to contain natural latex, so it should be fed in moderate portions until more is known about how natural latex affects hermit crabs.

UPDATE 6/13/07: Today the milkweed had bloomed. So I picked a single flower off of the cluster of pink blooms and Tank grabbed it and hauled it into his hidey. A few minutes longer and Zamboni joined him. I checked again in about an hour to see who was eating it, but it is gone without a trace!

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