“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
But would it be given as a symbol of love if it were named the Bloody Thorn Weed?
“Here, my dearest, please accept this bouquet of long stemmed Bloody Thorn Weeds as a token of my eternal love,” might not go over so well on Valentine’s Day.
And so begins my quest to have the Milkweed officially renamed as the Monarch Flower.
Here in Caledon, and in most of Ontario, Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and Common Milkweed (A. syriaca) are the two milkweed plants favoured by Monarch butterflies. They are their only egg-holding, larval caterpillar food source, and chrysalis shelter plants. The magnificent Monarch has reportedly just been placed on the global Endangered Species list; not just “at risk” anymore, but in danger of extinction.
Not surprisingly, the listing of the Monarch’s essential Milkweed as a “noxious plant” by agricultural lobbyists raising cattle, sheep, horses and poultry has contributed greatly to the reduction of the Milkweed plant in Ontario and elsewhere. Combine this with the illegal logging that has destroyed much of their “protected” habitat in the oak forests of Mexico where they overwinter and you have a recipe for disaster. A disaster exacerbated by human prejudice and greed.
We tend to save what we love and to protect things like flowers over weeds. So I propose we change the name of the Milkweed to the Monarch Flower, which actually smells much sweeter than most roses.
The Monarch Flower blooms in June, with a fragrant inflorescence of pink to purple flowers that fill the air with a subtle vanilla lilac scent. We have both popular Ontario varieties in our own home garden. They are native species that are perennial, require little care, and attract the first returning Monarchs. As there become fewer and fewer of these amazing migrating butterflies, they are going to need all the help they can get.
If politically correct entomologists can cycle the European Gypsy Moth into an LDD Moth, and then finally into the Spongy Moth, surely botanists can change the name of the Common Milkweed to the Monarch Flower. It’s worth a try. After all, extinction is forever.
The way I see it.
The International Association for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT) with their official Botanical Nomenclature can be contacted at their head office in Bratislava, Slovakia, or their US branch at the Smithsonian in Washington.
Managing Secretary: Eva Kralovicova
Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre,
Slovak Academy of Sciences, Institute of Botany
Dubravska cesta 9
Office Manager: Sarah K. Eichhorn
Department of Botany, MRC 166
P.O. Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012