Milkweed Wind Indicator

Milkweed fluff is a great wind indicator. A few floating strands will let you see how the wind currents are moving in your area. Powder or string wind indicators are only good right where you are, but milkweed fluff floats through the air a long way, which gives you an excellent idea how the currents are moving in a larger area. They are also quite visible in early morning and late evening low light conditions.

One pod will supply enough fluff for a long time. Harvest the pods after they are open. Pinch all of the milkweed strands, as best you can, and pull them from the pod. Knock most of the seeds off into the trash to avoid spreading the plant in unwanted areas. Stuff the fluff into a small canister, like an old 35mm film container or small pill bottle. Keep a good grip on the pinched fluff all the way into the container or you will have milkweed flying everywhere! Toss the container into your day pack so it’s handy when you need it. This is a great, natural product to help you keep the wind in your favor.



Comments From Milkweed Wind Indicator

Roger U. wrote: If you drill a 3/8″ hole in the bottom of the film canister you can remove the milkweed from the bottom a little at a time. I keep a toothpick inside the canister in case I can’t remove some with my fingers.

Tom S. wrote: Milkweed is the best for a wind indicator, but I leave the floaters in the pod instead of removing and putting them into a container. I wrap a rubber band around the dried pod to keep the floaters contained. It’s easy to pinch one or two at a time and release them. I never allow seeds to be released. Most of the seeds will stay in the pod if the rubber band is tight enough.

Kevin P. wrote: I like the idea of using the milkweed seed as a wind indicator. We don’t have milkweed in central Saskatchewan, but we do have lots of cattails. A small cattail head in one of my fanny pack side pockets would serve the same purpose. You also will be spreading the seed of a beneficial plant.

muskrat1 wrote: On the tip about using milkweed fluff, you said to throw the seeds in the garbage to prevent their spread. As I understand it, Monarch butterflies feed on milkweed plants. For years now I have been spreading the fluff for the Monarch’s use.

Kent G. wrote: I’ve been using the Milkweed Wind Indicator for years and have recommended it to others as well. My tip is to take a pair of scissors and make sure to snip ALL the seeds off the fluff so as not to take any chance of contaminating an area that doesn’t already have milkweed.


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  1. Jeff Reiter October 4, 2017 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Good article. I agree wholeheartedly with the use of milkweed fluff. I say fluff is superior to any alternative, especially powders. Easy to handle, water resistant (just consider WWII life vests).

    I will say that I suggest you all do NOT discard the seeds. I used to do the same. Having grown up in the Midwest as an Illinois farmer, we hated those terrible milkweeds. Then by the 80s it was understood that milkweeds, despite their unsightliness to farmers, really were unique in their behavior whereby the do NOT suck precious fertilizer and nutrients from the soil in a fashion that hurts crop production. Interesting ehh? But farmers would always gripe that milkweeds had to go. And they have gone. Partly because of GMO technologies and other herbicide technologies used in modern agriculture and successful overall weed control. People do not even know what a “natural” field looks like any more. They only see pristine fields of crops with no weeds, generally. Of course this is a passionate topic all on its own.

    What am i saying then? Don’t throw away the seeds. Monarch butterflies will benefit. You’ll have more to harvest your fair share and plenty behind for others. Milkweed plants already have enough competition. Spread the wealth.

  2. Russell S. October 4, 2017 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Milkweed, especially green milkweed and antelope horn milkweed are very beneficial to Monarch butterflies. The only way milkweed will become a problem plant in any area is if landowners are abusing their land thru overgrazing or lack of prescribed fire. Yes, it may be present, but on properly managed rangelands and pasturelands, it rarely is a problem.

  3. Tom Schmiedlin October 5, 2017 at 5:39 am - Reply

    I’m a long time milkweed user (I’ve already commented on this earlier) and I’ve always advocated NOT releasing the seeds.
    Well, it seems the folks in Ohio are experiencing a sharp decline in milkweed and they are now gathering the seeds for restoration.
    I’m still not sure how I feel about releasing the seeds, but I will say that milkweed is not a plant of deep woods or shade so accidental seeding of the stuff shouldn’t be an issue unless the floaters carry the seeds into open areas, pastures, cropland, etc.

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