The Milkweed Lands (Book) – Author Signed Copy
The Milkweed Lands is a meditation on the existence of a wild plant in our current time-scale – both through a full year growing season – and in the context of our Earth’s fragile contemporary conditions for sustaining life. This is a book of ecology, the relationship networks between plants and animals, fungi and microbial life, all interconnected with a single North American plant genus: Asclepias, the milkweeds.
Richly illustrated by acclaimed botanical illustrator Beverly Duncan, and authored by Northwest Meadowscapes co-founder Eric Lee-Mäder, The Milkweed Lands dives deeply into the well-known relationships of milkweeds and monarch butterflies, but also goes further, into the rhizosphere – the life-rich root zone of prairie soils – as well as into the atmosphere with aeroplankton – the small forms of life that travel the Earth on high elevation air currents -- and many more places where these plants connect with other forms of life.
Beginning with a brief ethnobotanical history of the milkweed genus, the book follows the survival of milkweeds and associated animals through extreme prairie winters, the changing fortunes of milkweeds and grassland insects under industrial-chemical agriculture, the biological fringes of human-altered landscapes, plant pandemics, the near-magical precision and extraordinary complexity of milkweed pollination, the far-ranging adaptations of milkweeds occurring in flood zones and deserts, and a bit more.
Three years in the making (and with some of the more complex human ecology content censored by the publisher) this is a book that the author quit halfway through, then was cajoled back to the writing process. The resulting final book is something of a compromise, a visually captivating natural history story, one that does not ignore the overlap between the plants once considered “weeds,” and how they frequently occur in places where less fortunate people are burdened by a similar status.
Hardcover, and signed by the author.