My route to work each day takes me by a field of weeds,grasses and wild flowers. It is a small overgrown patch of ground most noted for it's abilities to gather blown litter, Realtors signs and the god awful photos of hopeful would be politicians.
One summer day in May, I noticed the bulbous shapes of milkweed pods gleamed in the morning sun as I sped by on my motorcycle and they caught my eye. I made a mental note to return in the fall to harvest the natural tinder within them and add it to my primitive fire making kit.
(FALL Arrived) The rain was on and off (mostly on) this morning really cramping my style (as if I had any) but not so much that I could stay stuck indoors. I remembered the milkweed and got my rain jacket. It was the Fall after all and I promised myself I would pick a bunch.......so off I went.
Natural tinder fibers can be harvested from many sources. Cattail, Mullein, Birch bark, Horses hoof "amadou" but one of my favorite types is the fiber and particularly the ovum of the milkweed pod. The milkweed is a scary looking thing when time and weather has had it's way with it. The pod turns from a firm green almost pickle looking affair to a dark dried and wrinkled almost burned looking explosion of the pod it once was.
The pods at this time of year stick out against the dark browns and tans of the field like a roach on a wedding cake. Their white flags waving in the breeze slowly dispersing and disappearing.
A close look at the pod in fall is something one almost has to force yourself to do. They are a damaged, ripped, train wreck of a thing and if it were not for the beauty of their usefulness, I'm sorry to say I might not give the milkweed a second glance.
The seeds are connected to the silk like fiber which are their means of conveyance, from mother pod to the ground. The silk springs forth from the folds of the weeds ovum.
Here the ovum is seen just under the white strands of fiber.
The prize can be easily separated from the rest of the plant by just gently breaking it away from the stalk and lifting or pealing out the silk. The silk may be collected for various projects as well but today just the ovum was on my shopping list.
The delicate milkweed ovum is almost the color of an acorn squash and lite as a feather. They must be protected while transported or they will easily be torn, once dried they will be even more delicate and paper like. They will readily take the well aimed spark of a carbon steel and glow in a punk like manner. These will be strung on a length of thread and hung in the shed to dry thoroughly, placed in my possibles bag for use later in the year.
Useful stuff the UGLY milkweed pod.