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Monday, August 15, 2011

Discovery

On my daily walks with Terra the past few days, I have been looking at the shapes of leaves. In my attempt to make more natural quilting lines and patterns, I have gone to the source, noting that, of course, no two leaves even on the same plant are exactly alike, but trying to get a feel for how much and in what ways they differ.

A day or so ago I began looking closely at milkweed leaves--big and fairly simple in shape--and decided to bring a couple back with me to continue my study. As I went to put Terra on the leash to cross the road, I realized my hand was sticky and, looking down, felt a momentary little puff of delight as I saw of bubble of what could only be described as milk forming at the end of the broken stem. My delight turned to chagrin at my stupidity as I realized, "Oh, yeah. That's why it's called milkweed."

Now I have lived among milkweed for over twenty years--and had encountered it on hikes before that. I know that its sap is bitter and probably is the reason why the monarch caterpillars, who love to chew on the leaves, don't taste very good to predators. I may even have been told the sap was milky. But it wasn't until I broke those leaves off that I made the connection with the name. So many things that I am ignorant about--or have forgotten. . . . .

Here's a picture of two differently shaped leaves--notice the sappy stems are not touching my cutting board. By the way, I washed my hands thoroughly when I got in the house. The sap was sticky enough that I didn't want to get it on anything else and luckily, I didn't swipe hair out of my eyes with that hand because I found out it can wreak real havoc if it gets in your eyes.

And if you are still with me and haven't run out to break leaves off a milkweed (but perhaps I am the only one who didn't know about the sap), thanks for the company.

1 comment:

  1. I'm catching up on all your posts...I did know about the sap...Milkweed has been one of my favorites since I was a kid....love love love seeing them growing...mostly in PA.

    Smiles,
    Kelly

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