Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Found widely in open fields through the Southwest are Antelope Horns, a colorfully named member of the milkweed family. Their common name comes from the curved seed pods which remind at least some of the horned appendages of the Pronghorn. Also known as Spider Milkweed and Green-flowered Milkweed, this and other members of the family are the primary food source of the Monarch butterfly. The leaves are eaten by the caterpillar and the flowers provide a nectar source for the adults. One of the side benefits to the Monarch is the plant contains toxic cardiac glycosides which when ingested by the butterfly makes them poisonous and unpalatable to predators.
Although native to the Southwest, it has spread widely. How this occurred is open to question but the following account is at least interesting. Because milkweed silk that is attached to the seeds is five to six times more buoyant than cork, it was used during World War II by the U.S. in the construction of life jackets and aviation life jackets. Schoolchildren were encouraged to collect milkweed pods for that purpose when the supply of kapok was cut off by the Japanese. The stowaway seeds may have been transported from North to South America in this way. It is also speculated that the seeds were transmitted from South Africa to New Zealand in a similar manner since it was used in the construction of ship ropes and as filler for pillows and life vests. Then again, maybe wind was the only active agent in dispersal.
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (KJV) How many times have we read these familiar words in Matthew 24:14 and wondered how this could possibly take place? No problem. If milkweed can be transported via wind, life vests and pillows, don’t you think the Lord can take care of information dispersal as well?