The native plant Butterfly Weed, asclepias tuberosa is in full bloom now at the trailhead meadow. It is easily grown and does well in all soil types. It is valued for its contribution to wildlife habitat.
This sun loving member of the milkweed family is a host plant for the monarch butterfly. Early in the spring the monarch deposits its eggs on this plant after its long migration. The plant then provides the necessary food for the emerging caterpillar. After two weeks of eating the caterpillar forms a chrysalis. Ten days later the metamorphosis to butterfly occurs, and the next generation of monarch emerges. This cycle repeats three more times over the summer. The fourth-generation butterfly makes the long journey south where it spends the winter.
There is concern about threats to the monarch such as loss of habitat. You can read more about that in this US Fish and Wildlife service fact sheet: https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/MonarchSSAFactSheet.pdf
Take a look at the Butterfly Weed the next time you are at the trailhead. You may see the monarch in one of its life stages. Consider planting Butterfly Weed, or other milkweeds, in your garden to provide habitat for this species.
You can read the previous Reading Drive Meadow Update here