by W.J. Langenberg,
ret. Env. Biol.; Hort. Ext. OMAFRA, Kemptville College
Milkweed, also called Side Plant, because of its sideways later growth, has a latex milky sap, which is toxic to farm animals if consumed in large quantities. Goats, sheep and rabbits can be poisoned. It is very invasive. The roots grow horizontally up to 6-10 feet. Along the creeping horizontal roots, buds are produced that will grow into new plants. One plant can produce a colony of milkweeds.
It self-fertilizes (no pollinator needed). Pollen is not produced, but microspores, which change through meiosis into fertile pollen grains. The microspores are carried over a large area in the wind. The seeds produced after fertilization are also carried by water and by air to other locations.
Milkweed should only be found NATURALLY on non-arable farmland surrounded by windbreaks. Perhaps, in consultation with NG Council, Milkweed can be grown on top of the hill behind the Maple Orchard, planted in 1978 (Concession Road, across from the schools). It is surrounded by trees, which will restrict the movement of the Milkweed seeds to other areas.
If Milkweed is planted on abandoned farmland, make sure that the field is protected by windbreaks, such as spruce/pine trees on the north and west side of the field. Windbreaks will stop the aerial transport of Milkweed seeds and microspores. Do not contaminate nearby farm fields used for field crops, including hay. Horses hate to eat hay contaminated with Milkweed.
Milkweed is a NOXIOUS WEED. If there is too much of it on farmland, more chemical spraying is needed to control it. Let’s protect Agricultural and Horticultural crops for food production.