Whilst hiking today, I came across a patch of milkweed, covered in several different kinds of insects, including paper wasps, tiny native bees, and honeybees (mine? possible). It seems that milkweed is not only good for monarch butterflies, but for many pollinators. It's also delicate and beautiful to look at. In the open spaces near Mt Diablo, the variety that I most see is 'narrow-leaved milkweed.'

I noticed that many of the plants already had seed pods, so I picked a few and brought them home. I put them in a paper bag, where they will dry out and burst, and then I'll scatter the seeds in my yard during the winter rains.

I've tried this before, with no luck. It may be that the plant prefers a slightly higher elevation. Or perhaps I'm giving it too rich of a soil, and too much water. As you can see from the background of these photos, it's quite dry and brown in the hills. Or perhaps I need to scatter them later in the season.

I did a little research on how insects pollinate milkweed, and it's quite interesting, and rather sexy. This from Xerces, an invertebrate conservation siteMilkweed flowers have a unique shape and are pollinated in a more specific way than most other insect-visited flowers. Rather than occurring as free grains that are accessible to any visitor, milkweed pollen is contained in pollinia, waxy sacs located inside vertical grooves of the flower. When an insect visits the flower to obtain nectar, one of its legs may slip into a groove (“stigmatic slit”), attaching pollinia to the insect’s leg. Fertilization occurs when pollinia are then in- advertently transferred by the insect to another milkweed flower.
I've also been seeing a mother deer and her two fawns quite often, and they are moving closer and closer to my house. I've been wondering when the deer will find my new veg beds. I'm hoping our (inadequate for this purpose) short fence will deter at least the babies.