Illinois is Milkweed Country
I’m proud to say that my state just adopted Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) as its official wildflower (the official state flower is the Violet).
I’m happy to see any effort to raise awareness of the fact that Milkweeds are the only plants that serve as hosts for Monarch Butterflies, and that an adequate supply of Milkweed is essential to reviving the population of these beautiful creatures.
Some of you are aware that my job is political in nature and involves working with the Illinois legislature. Since one reason I write this blog is to think about something other than work , I generally avoid politics here. However, in this case I’ll make an exception.
Milkweed’s elevated status in the Land of Lincoln is due to the work of State Representative Anna Moeller, who I can say from personal experience is a thoughtful legislator and a nice person. I think Rep. Moeller was wise to apply her bill to the entire Milkweed genus, thus avoiding an internecine battle between supporters of Butterflyweed (A. tuberosa), Rose Milkweed (A. incarnata), and other factions.
She also had a bill that would have prohibited local governments from classifying Milkweed as a noxious weed, but it failed to pass the State Senate.
You wouldn’t think a bill to name Milkweed as the state wildflower would generate any opposition, but you would be wrong. An outfit calling itself the “Illinois News Network” distributed a story entitled “Proposal would make a weed the official state flower”. The Illinois News Network is actually a part of the political infrastructure created in this state over the past few years by the Koch brothers and like-minded misanthropes.
Anyway, the article calls Milkweed “a poisonous weed” and “an aggressive and invasive plant”. Oh, and it claimed that the proposal made Common Milkweed the state wildflower, but as noted above the designation applies to all species in the genus. C’mon, get your facts straight! Talk about your fake news!
Hey, Charles and David Koch! You feel you aren’t doing enough damage already? Your work won’t be done until you get rid of Monarch Butterflies on top of everything else? Phooey on the both of you!
Anyhow, I’d like to think that this symbolic step will pave the way to more substantive action in the future. It’s a step in the right direction, at least.