Today’s review is about THE MILKWEED LANDS by Eric Lee-Mäder and illustrated by Beverly Duncan. This is a lovely book that many gardeners will appreciate. Lee-Mäder shares the history of the milkweed in the United States and its significance during World War II. And, of course, the reader learns about the milkweed and the creatures associated with it throughout each season.
Author: Eric Lee-Mäder, Beverly Duncan (Illustrator)
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Publish Date: September 26, 2023
Print Length: 120
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Delve into this fascinating appreciation of milkweed, an often-overlooked plant, and discover an amazing range of insects and organisms that depend on it as the seasons unfold, with this collaboration between a noted ecologist and an award-winning botanical illustrator.
Ecologist Eric Lee-Mäder and noted botanical artist Beverly Duncan have teamed up to create this unique exploration of the complex ecosystem that is supported by the remarkable milkweed plant, often over-looked or dismissed as a roadside weed. With stunning, up-close illustrations and engaging text, they trace every stage of the plant’s changes and evolutions throughout the seasons, including germination, growth, flowering, and seed development. Simultaneously, they chronicle the lives of the many creatures whose lives are intertwined with the milkweed: monarch butterflies; soldier and queen butterflies; milkweed tussock moths; large and small milkweed bugs; milkweed weevils; bumble bees; goldfinches; and more. The delightful illustrations and illuminating text give the reader the feeling of browsing an avid naturalist’s sketchbook, while also learning about different milkweed species, how to propagate milkweed in the garden, the industrial uses of milkweed, interesting milkweed relatives, and more.
I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.
As a gardener who recently planted milkweeds in the backyard, I was very excited to come across this book. In THE MILKWEED LANDS, Eric Lee-Mäder delivers an approachable summary about the plants themselves, their history, and the ecosystem around them. This information is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations by Beverly Duncan.
Lee-Mäder takes the reader through each season with the milkweed, sharing what the milkweed, as well as what the creatures around it, do during that time. I primarily picked this up to learn more about the actual plant. But I found its use during World War II quite fascinating. There is even text devoted to the etymology of the scientific name and how Eurocentric it is. The brief history of milkweed’s presence on the lands of the United States also make one pause to think about the loss of botanic diversity resulting from mass crop growth. Part of this history includes how popular milkweeds used to be for honey production.
I was also very interested to learn more about the types of insects I see on milkweeds. To my delight this book has a full illustrated page of insects associated with milkweeds. However, I do wish the author had presented more information about these bugs. In particular, I would have liked to read about the types of insects one might see based on where in the U.S. someone lives.
Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed reading THE MILKWEED LANDS. It’s a book I think many hobbyist gardeners would appreciate, particularly those interested in creating pollinator gardens or rewilding their yards. The beautiful illustrations in THE MILKWEED LANDS, as well as Lee-Mäder’s poetic waxing about the plant, make reading this book even richer.
Content warnings: None
Reading format: .pdf