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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Common milkweed

There seemed to be a number of you who didn't know about milkweed, so I went looking to see what I could find. 


I am telling you! 
Who knew milkweed could be made into rope, used as stuffing for life vests, eaten at several stages of its life, was used extensively by Native Americans for everything from poisoning arrows to contraception...?  Holly at Wild Blessings has photos of several dishes she makes with milkweed's various parts. Me, I'd be careful about chowing down on any part of something that can mess up my heart.


All I knew about was the wart removal and that the flowers smell divine from a distance and the scent can knock you out if you bury your nose in them.

Common milkweed, the kind I have here, is native to the US and Canada, but it apparently has relatives all over the world. When I marvel at being able to talk to people on the other side of the world, I should remember that plants were connected all over the globe before the internet existed! Think of it!

I should really leave these kinds of explanations to Woodswalker...

14 comments:

Rose from Oz is Back! said...

Well June, I'll have to see what relatives of this plant we have hear. I'll be off and do some sleuthing. :)

Rose from Oz is Back! said...

Dementia is nearing - duh I knew it was "here".

georgia little pea said...

Thanks for that. I'll let Rose do the sleuthing and come back for a sticky beak later. I don't understand how a plant that can be used for poisoning arrows and contraception (which surely implies some toxicity) can be used for cooking. I guess, like fugu, you have to know how to prepare it!

DJan said...

An amazing plant. It must have been the birds that took the place of the internet in ancient times, bringing plants all over the planet, even across vast expanses of water. I will need to find out if milkweed is here in the Pacific Northwest so I can get knocked out by the smell. :-)

Joanne said...

I was smiling at your milkweed story yesterday. I'm a spinner and knew it could be spun. I ws a new spinner and didn't know the bast fibers of the stem was the part I was after. So, I collected lots of dried pods. I learned there are male and female plants, and there can be whole fields of milkweeds with no pods because they're all the same sex. So, when I found pods I'd yell for the driver to pull over. I collected bags full, and actuall spun some of the fluff. Outside. It flew everywhere.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Thankyou for the update . I'll store the knowledge up till I next need a poisoned arrow .
Meanwhile , I'm very taken with the vision of Joanne wildly spinning fluff ....

June said...

Joanne! Spinning milkweed fluff!
It sounds like elf activity, but lo, there are others who do it:

http://meaganhanes.com/2010/08/using-milkweed-fluff/

http://folktalefibers.blogspot.com/2008/08/natural-dye-adventures-plus-milkweed.html

Barb said...

I actually threw out some Milkweed seeds last fall, now that you've reminded me. So far, I'm not seeing that plant in my front wildflower yard. Too bad since it seems like a cure-all!

Hilary said...

Oh and their pods are so beautiful in the autumn..

Olga said...

We have lots of milkweed in the field behind us. The seeds, I always thought of as a nuisance, but I have put the died pods in dried flower arrangements. Monarch buterflies like to feed on milkweed and kindergarten classrooms around here for a long time have collected cocoons from the plants and watched the butterflies emerge.

Eileen said...

Thanks for the info - I'm going to have to keep my eye for it locally.

Carolynn Anctil said...

Wow, the marvel of nature. It's truly mindblowing all that we don't know. And, by "we", I mean me.

Woodswalker said...

Thanks, June, for linking to my blog. And thanks, too, for posting about one of my favorite native plants. Last week, I picked a flower cluster and placed it in a vase in my kitchen, and we could smell it all over the house, even after the florets were long wilted.

Jane said...

Will be heading out into the garden, ditches and other rubbishy areas (yes, the garden is weeded up really nicely at the moment) once the rain has stopped...in the meantime it's google and finding out more about this plant - thanks for the heads up :)