Milkweeds are another commonly found plant in grasslands especially in Northern America and are usually found growing along the roads apart from the fields and meadows.
There are four species in the milkweeds family; they are the Common Milkweed, Butterfly Milkweed, Tropical Milkweed, and Swamp Milkweed.
The plant is relatively medium height, growing up to anything between 2 to 6 feet, and has a single stem with oval shaped leaves which are smooth on top, but have little furry fibers at the bottom.
This perennial plant has flowers ranging from pink to lavender and these flowers develop into teardrop shaped seed pods.
The milkweed plant is amazingly adaptable to different types of soils like rocky, clay, sandy, and even in grasslands, which have very little soil moisture.
Its roots like many plants in dry regions grow deep into the ground, and cannot easily be uprooted. This allows the plant to grow and thrive in conditions that other plants cannot.
Another amazing adaptation of this plant’s root is that even on those occasions that it is uprooted, the root leaves a small part of itself behind, so that after sometime, the plant is able to grow back.
The plant can also grow laterally, making new sprouts come out of the earth every so often.
Its sweet tasting nectar is a key attraction to all the insects that live off it. When drinking nectar, the pollen of the milkweed is stuck on their feet, and that allows other plants to be pollinated.
The way the plant protects itself against herbivores is it produces an extremely bitter sap that is unpalatable for them.
Related to its adaptive functions, is its ability to act as host to monarch butterflies. These creatures lay eggs on the sticky underside of the plant’s leaves and when the larvae are born they feed on the toxic plants. This later allows these butterflies to prevent attacks from potential predators.