Common or Uncommon

When common is uncommon.

DSC_0015_202Common, it means every day, and ordinary even unexceptional.  One of my personal puzzles has been why milkweed is named common. Ok, my human foolishness shows. Still, why common? In my view there is nothing common about the milkweed plant.

Perhaps we should use its Latin name: Asclepias syriaca. That looks impressive, but for most it is unpronounceable. We could use its lavender pink flowers as a starting point. We can add that each flower when view directly forms a star, but many flowers do that. We could say it spreads rapidly by the roots or rhizomes; it even grows well from seed gathered in the fall. But, again many plants do that.

Nevertheless, this plant is not common.

Another name for it is Virginia Silk. It is an ethnobotanic plant. Humans living with milkweed have used it for fiber, food and medicine. Milkweed fiber makes a beautiful strong cord. Native people used milkweed for many medicinal purposes. It was not only one native group, but many who knew the milkweed had healing qualities.

Milkweed sap contains cardiac glycosides. These are related to some digitalins used to treat some forms of heart disease. To the monarch butterfly, this means toxic. But not to the monarch, rather to any predator attempting to add the monarch caterpillar to its diet.

How do the monarch butterfly caterpillar bodily processes allow it to eat a plant that is toxic? Native people knew how to prepare it for consumption. But if you join the many who seek to increase monarch habitat by growing milkweed be aware; the plant has toxins. Eating any of the plant or getting sap in your eyes may require medical attention. Again, not for a monarch caterpillar. Milkweed is its only food source. Besides the monarch many bees, other butterflies and even the hummingbird benefit from this plant that is far from common.

Common, ordinary, unexceptional do not apply to this marvelous plant. We can call it common, but we know better.

A closer look at the milkweed reveals the presence of its Creator. Its relationship with the monarch butterfly, its beauty, its function in a food web all provide evidence of the plant’s author. God has written His power into the milkweed plant. You see, it is not common. This plant was made by God and for God. Here’s final thought, you and I were made by Him and for Him too.

Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

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Author: davidwellis

Being a grandfather, husband, former public school teacher and Education Specialist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service provide me with many life perspectives. Being a naturalist with a camera puts me outside. Trusting God and seeking His direction guides my words, and photos. We live in a magnificent world, come and look at it with me through my eyes, lens and words. To God be the glory. Enjoy the Cedar Waxwings being used for the current profile photo!