Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Milkweed evolves to repair itself faster

In keeping with this month’s plant evolution theme we have a news story on milkweed evolution.

The adage that your enemies know your weaknesses best is especially true in the case of plants and predators that have co-evolved: As the predators evolve new strategies for attack, plants counter with their own unique defenses.

Milkweed is the latest example of this response, according to Cornell research suggesting that plant may be shifting away from elaborate defenses against specialized caterpillars toward a more energy-efficient approach. Genetic analysis reveals an evolutionary trend for milkweed plants away from resisting predators to putting more effort into repairing themselves faster than caterpillars — particularly the monarch butterfly caterpillar — can eat them. . . .[ read more Milkweed’s evolutionary approach to caterpillars: Counter appetite with fast repair]

This approach is great news for monarch butterflies.