Since 2015, Ohioans have been called on to collect and donate milkweed pods so that the seeds can be harvested and then distributed for planting.
The importance of this plant cannot be overstated. Milkweed is the only host plant for the Monarch butterfly to lay eggs and rear caterpillars. Additionally, it serves as a food source for Monarchs and several other pollinator species.
The need for new planting is necessary because milkweed is disappearing across the United States and, in the past 20 years, this has contributed to an 80% decline in the eastern Monarch butterfly population. Monarchs are important to our ecosystem for multiple reasons, including the fact that they pollinate many types of wildflowers and they serve as a food source for birds, small animals and other insects.
An effort to collect pods is being led by the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI), and we here in Richland County can do our part to help.
Milkweed seed pods are now starting to mature to the point where they can be harvested, and the Richland County Soil and Water Conservation Board (SWCD) will happily accept donations of harvested seed pods. If pods appear slightly gray and are dried out they are ready to be harvested; the seeds inside should be brown before a pod is picked. Collect the pods in a brown paper bag (plastic bags will collect unwanted moisture and should not be used) and drop them off at the SWCD (1495 W. Longview Avenue, Suite 205B, Mansfield) in the green and yellow container. During winter, the seeds will be removed from the pods and the SWCD will distribute them for planting.
Source: Richland County Soil and Water Conservation