We received the following question recently from a SFE grant applicant:
“Does the garden have to contain milkweed to qualify for the Monarch Waystation portion of the grant funds? Our public school system will not allow us to plant milkweed as it may be poisonous.”
This is the answer from Monarch Watch Director Chip Taylor:
“Monarch Waystations need to contain both milkweeds and nectar plants. There are Monarch Waystations in over 1000 schools nationwide. The milkweeds being used in these programs have a minor amount of toxins. Toxins would only be a problem for those who actively forage on the plants or get sap on their fingers and then stick their finger in their eyes. The leaves are so bitter that one bite deters most human grazers. And, unless there are reasons to harvest foliage to feed larvae, there is no need to pick leaves or cut stems. These activities would generally be conducted by teachers who should know not to get the sap in their eyes. Eye irritation can be quite uncomfortable and concerning but usually clears up in three days.”
To learn more about milkweed, check out some of the Monarch Matters articles on our WFM (Wild for Monarchs) webpages.