Year of Milkweed

Gov­er­nors Island is invit­ing all New York­ers to join us for a year of edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams and events that high­light the pow­er of native plants in encour­ag­ing bio­di­ver­si­ty and health­i­er ecosys­tems. Our goal is to plant 5,000 milk­weed plants all around the Island in 2024, with efforts focused on three species of milk­weed native to New York City’s eco-region: 

Asclepias tuberosa

Butterfly Weed

Asclepias syriaca

Common Milkweed

Ascelpias incarnata

Swamp Milkweed

Why are we doing it?

Milk­weed illus­trates the close con­nec­tion between native plants and wildlife — monarch but­ter­fly cater­pil­lars have evolved to feed exclu­sive­ly on milk­weed leaves. With their strik­ing orange and black wings, East­ern mon­archs are abun­dant on Gov­er­nors Island dur­ing their migra­tion in late sum­mer and fall, but their pop­u­la­tions have been expe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant decline through­out the Unit­ed States over the past sev­er­al years. Inte­grat­ing this vol­ume of milk­weed plants into Gov­er­nors Island’s green spaces will allow mon­archs to safe­ly com­plete their life cycles while increas­ing native plant habi­tats for all Island wildlife. 

How can I get involved?

Join one of our upcom­ing com­mu­ni­ty events like nature walks, drop-in vol­un­teer projects, or insect light trap­ping. Click here for a full cal­en­dar. You can also vis­it the demon­stra­tion gar­den, open­ing Sum­mer 2024 in Liggett Ter­race, and take some time to learn about the rela­tion­ship between milk­weed and monarch but­ter­flies – here are some resources to get you started: 

But­ter­fly weed and swamp milk­weed pho­tos by Sar­ma Ozols.