The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) is encouraging all Ohioans who have grown common milkweed this season to harvest seed pods and take them to a participating Soil and Water Conservation Office. The Annual Milkweed Pollination Collection is in its third year in Ohio. In 2015, 7 counties piloted the milkweed seed pod collection. The project has grown and it is estimated that over 22 million seeds have been collected by volunteers across the buckeye state over the 3 years.
Milkweed is the only host plant for the monarch butterfly for egg laying and the caterpillars rely on it for food. It also serves as a food source for monarchs butterflies, as well as many other pollinator species.
To make the collection as successful, the OPHI has come up with the following tips:
- Make sure that before you collect seed, you become familiar with the common milkweed to avoid harvesting pods from similar plants such as hemp dogbane and swamp milkweed. The collection is for only the common milkweed.
- It is best to collect the pods when they are dry, grey, or brown. IT IS IMPORTANT TO CHECK THIS! (Since pod collection starts September 1 and runs through October 31… please use September as the time to locate milkweed plants and to keep an eye on the pods while they ripen and then pick them once they look like the picture shown below.)
- If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, they can be harvested.
- Store the pods in paper bags; plastic bags collect unwanted moisture.
- Put the date and county collected on the bag when you turn them in.
- Keep the pods in a cool, dry area until you can deliver them to the nearest collection site.
- You can find the nearest collection site at https://www.agri.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/oda/divisions/soil-and-water-conservation/find-a-local-swcd/swcd-list
These are the districts that are participating with the OPHI Pod collection this year as indicated in the salmon color above:
Adams, Ashland, Athens, Auglaize, Belmont, Brown, Butler, Carroll, Clark, Clermont, Clinton, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Darke, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Harrison, Henry, Hocking, Holmes, Huron, Jefferson, Knox, Lake, Logan, Lorain, Lucas, Madison, Mahoning, Medina, Meigs, Mercer, Miami, Monroe, Montgomery, Muskingum, Noble, Ottawa, Paulding, Pickaway, Pike, Preble, Putnam, Richland, Ross, Sandusky, Shelby, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Union, Van Wert, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Williams, Wood, and Wyandot
Collections began the first of September and will continue through October 30. If you have questions regarding milkweed collection, please contact Marci Lininger at Marci.Lininger@dot.ohio.gov or Lori Stevenson at Lori_Stevenson@fws.gov or reach out to your local Soil and Water Conservation District. Not familiar with the office in the county that you live? Check out their webpage to be able to search and find the location in your county: https://ofswcd.org/who-we-are/find-your-swcd.html
For more information on best practices for collecting milkweed please refer to this video! http://u.osu.edu/beelab/milkweed-seed/ Happy seed collecting!