The milkweed section of the April Texas Discovery Garden plant sale is not for the faint of heart. Once the gate is opened, you’ve just got to get in there—elbows flying—and grab.
Turns out, this year we purchased an interloper that hitched a ride to the Raincatcher’s Garden with the native Rose, Common, Green, Green-flowered and Antelope Horns milkweed. And this milkweed has been turning heads.
African milkweed Asclepias physocarpa or Gomphocarpus physocarpa was a mild mannered herbaceous plant with tiny white star-shaped flowers from August through September. Then 3-inch pale green, round seedpods covered with soft hair-like spines appeared in October. None of the Raincatcher’s volunteers had seen anything like it. The spiny pods will fade to red or brown and slowly split to release numerous oval seeds, each with a tuft of silky hairs to catch the wind.
African milkweed, which is also known as Balloon Plant, Swan Flower and Tennis Ball Plant, is an annual milkweed native to Africa. Its distinctive seedpods are often used in flower arrangements—or as conversation pieces in the Raincatcher’s Garden.
Pictures by Starla
Texas Discovery Garden Plant Sale, November 4th for members, November 5th for the public. Information here.