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Botany Butterfly Farming Gardening Milkweeds (Asclepias)

What do Milkweed Seeds Look Like?

Milkweed seeds are flat and oval-shaped, and they are usually about a quarter of an inch long. They’re typically a light brown or tan color.

Milkweed seeds still in their pod 🫛 lined up like sardines in a can.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of milkweed seeds is their attachment to a structure known as a coma or “floss.” The floss is a cluster of thin, white, filament-like structures that are soft and fluffy to the touch, somewhat like a feather or a piece of cotton candy. Each individual filament is attached at one end to the seed. The purpose of the floss is to help the seed disperse on the wind; when a milkweed pod opens, the seeds can be carried away on their fluffy parachutes.

The seeds are usually packed tightly together inside the milkweed pod, which is a large, oblong structure that starts out green and then turns brown as it matures and dries out. When the pod opens, it reveals the seeds packed in layers, each one attached to its own bit of floss. The overall visual effect is something like a neatly packed sardine can, but with seeds and floss instead of fish. When touched, the seeds with their attached floss have a dry, light, and somewhat silky feel. If you were to lightly blow on a detached seed and its floss, you would feel it lift and float away, demonstrating its wind-dispersal adaptation.

I hope this gives you a good sense of what milkweed seeds are like! The more we learn about the requirements of the Monarch Butterfly, the better suited we are to care for these magical creatures… one day at a time!

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