This milkweed plant is the only one I have seen as The Everyday Adventurer. I found it on the River trail at Heritage Park. It's the only one I can find, though I'm sure there are plenty more around. Since I was a kid, I thought milkweed and cattails were some of the coolest plants. I remember examining these pods inside and out. They're some of the strangest things I've ever seen.
This particular plant is called Common Milkweed. This is the primary food for many different insects, and a major food source for many others. Monarch Butterflies, Milkweed Leaf Beetles, and Milkweed Bugs only eat milkweed, and couldn't survive without it. The green pods are actually the fruit of the milkweed plants. After the pods turn brown, they burst open and let out fluffy seeds. The seeds are caught by the wind to float through the air and spread more plants.
Something I always wondered was, why is it called milkweed? Where is the milk? Well, when the plant is broken open, a milky sap comes out. Don't eat this plant because the sap is poisonous. It's a poison called Cardiac Glycosides. Some animals can eat it but humans can't. When a monarch butterfly caterpillar eats the milkweed leaves, it absorbs the poison into it's body, and it becomes poisonous to predators. Even though it's poisonous to eat the milkweed, the fluffy seeds are sometimes used as stuffing for life jackets.
I am just guessing here, but maybe milkweed pods were the inspiration for the story "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers." If you're not familiar with it; it's about pods that came from seeds that drifted through space for years, and finally landed on earth. Once on earth, the pods grow duplicates of humans inside, in an evil plot to replace the human race. If you haven't seen the movie, give it a try, it's a good story.
So if you ever see a truckload of giant milkweed pods, we're all doomed!