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Plant and Tree Profiles

This resource section contain member provided profiles of trees and plants that work well in our area.

Asclepias sp. "Milkweed"

Published on Sunday, February 17, 2013

Asclepias sp. "Milkweed"

A. speciosa, fascicularis

  Greetings!  I chose Milkweed as a plant to present because it's so yummy and useful!

As I had mentioned earlier the "Showy milkweed", Asclepius speciosa, is the only plant of this species that I've eaten from in this town.  I read somewhere? that the seed pods when young (not popping open between finger and thumb) were edible after steaming in one to two changes of water.  I tried it and yes! they were yummy and worth trying almost Okra like.  From the other books I've perused (see book list) the plant should not be eaten raw.  It is suggested the young leaves, shoots and pods be boiled twice in a change o' water.

  The two species I know of in this region are A. speciosa and A. fascicularis.  Speciosa or "showy" milkweed has opposite, oblong lance-shaped leaves, FLOWERS:  Pink to reddish purple; 5 petals, bent sharply backwards; 5 stamens, joined to form a tube with 5 erect, horn-like appendages; on downy stems, in large umbrella-shaped heads.

  The genus Asclepias is named for the Greek physician and god of medicine Asklepios. 

Terry Willard Ph.D. , in A Wild Rose College Field Guide, Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rocky Mountains and Neighbouring Territories mentioned "If Milkweed is eaten in large quantities it will cause profound depression and in some cases even death."   I'm  putting that out there.  In Lone Pine's "EDIBLE & MEDICINAL PLANTS of the ROCKIES" It is warned that "The milky sap contains poisonous cardiac glycocides.  Livestock have been poisoned, but usually animals avoid these plants.  The toxins are destroyed by heat, so milkweeds should always be cooked before they are eaten.  Narrow-leaved milkweeds are more toxic than broad-leaved species."

  The other regional species I've seen is A. fascicularis or "narrowleaf milkweed and "Mexican whorled milkweed".  I've mostly seen this down in dry river beds. 

  In my meeting presentation on Feb. 17, I mentioned two websites, the Xerces Project Milkweed,  and Daniel E. Moerman's Native American Ethnobotany site .  Both inciteful and informative websites!  Enjoy.

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I'm a local ethnobotany nerd. I helped kick-start Spokane's Permaculture Study Group with Mary Kate Wheeler around the Winter of 2010? at Sun People Dry Goods where I worked for it's first 6 or so months.

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