Sunday, June 20, 2010

Common Milkweed


Common Milkweed, Asclepias syrica
Milkweed is a very common plant in eastern MA who uses are often overlooked.
The buds, flowers, pods, and young shoots of Milkweed are all edible. I have read about people cooking the young spring shoots and pods and eating them like vegetables. Tea, wine, and fritters can also be made with the purple flowers. If you get a chance just smell the flowers...they are wonderfully sweet!
This website is great resource for wild foods:
The milky white sap from this plant has been used topically to treat boils, warts, and ringworms. Milkweed is a detoxifying herb. It supports the removal of toxins and stagnation from the body through its action on the blood and lymphatic circulation, the kidneys, digestive tract, and, to a lesser extent, the liver.
The Peterson's Guide has multiple edible uses for Milkweed. The milky juice and the leaves are "bitter and mildly toxic," but boiling can rid the plant of both of those problems. The boiled young shoots, leaves, unopened flowerbuds, flowers, and young pods are said to be good as asparagus, cooked greens, cooked vegetables, and fritters.
The only way to eat Milkweed is as a young shoot (under 15 cm), but the young shoot could be confused with dogbanes and Butterfly-weed, which are both poisonous! TO DIFFERENTIATE: (a) Young Milkweed Shoots are fuzzy and the broken stems have a milky substance. (b) Dogbanes are hairless. (c) Butterfly-weed has no milky sap.


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