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Common Milkweed
Asclepiadaceae
Asclepias syriaca


Thunder
Thunder
Flower Petal # 5
Main Color    
Color 2    
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb




Asclepiadaceae Family

Asclepias Genus
Other Names for this Plant

milkweed root, silkweed, silky swallow wort, cottonweed, Virginia silk, Wild Cotton


Location

Native of America and Canada from New Brunswick, far westward and southward to North Carolina and Kansas. From eastern Massachusetts to Virginia, and westward to the Mississippi, or beyond

Physical Description
Dull, pale greenish purple pink, or brownish pink, borne on pedicels, in many flowered, broad umbels. Calyx inferior, 5-parted; corolla deeply 5-cleft, the segments turned backward. Above them an erect, 5-parted crown, each part called a hood, containing a nectary, and with a tooth on either side, and an incurved horn projecting from within. Behind the crown the short, stout stamens, united by their filaments in a tube, are inserted on the corolla. Broad anthers united around a thick column of pistils terminating in a large, sticky, 5-angled disk. The anther sacs tipped with a winged membrane; a waxy, pear-shaped pollen-mass in each sac connected with the stigma in pairs or fours by a dark gland, and suspended by a stalk like a pair of saddle-bags.

Stem: Stout, leafy, usually unbranched, 3 to 5 ft. high, juice milky.
Roots: deep, fleshy, conic root
Leaves: Opposite, oblong, entire-edged smooth above, hairy below, 4 to 9 in. long.
Fruit: 2 thick, warty pods, usually only one filled with compressed seeds attached to tufts of silky, white, fluffy hairs.




General Information

External. It is a common practice among the laity to remove warts by the application of the fresh, milky juice of the plant. Krausi believed it effective in removing small epitheliomata.
Internal. As the root possesses tonic, diuretic, and anthelmintic properties it may be used occasionally for the functions indicated. The heart-action is stimulated by it, and it has been suggested as a useful remedy in muscular rheumatoid affections, acting much like macrotys. Constipation is said to be favorably influenced by it, and in full doses it is recommended to expel intestinal worms. The drug deserves study.
The young "shoots" or turiones are a favorite pot-herb or "greens" in some sections of our country. The young shoots are eaten as asparagus in Canada, where a sort of sugar is also prepared from the flowers.
In Hindu mythology, Soma - the Indian Bacchus- and one of the most important of the Vedic gods, is a personification of the Soma plant, A. acida, from which an intoxicating milky juice is squeezed. All the 114 hymns of the ninth book of the Rig Veda are in his praise. The preparation of the Soma juice was a very sacred ceremony and the worship of the god is very old. The true home of the plant was fabled to be in heaven, Soma being drunk by gods as well as men, and it is under its influence that Indra is related to have created the universe and fixed the earth and sky in their place. In post Vedic literature, Soma is a regular name for the moon, which is regarded as being drunk by the gods and so waning, till it is filled up again by the Sun. In both the Rig Veda and Zend Avesta, Soma is the king of plants; in both, it is a medicine which gives health, long life and removes death.
The silk-like down of the seeds is employed to stuff pillows. Some of the species furnish excellent fiber, which is woven into muslins, and in certain parts of India is made into paper.
Called 'Silkweed,' from the silky down which surmounts the seed, being an inch or two in length, and which has been used for making hats and for stuffing beds and pillows. Attempts have been made to use it as a cotton substitute. Both in France and Russia it has had textile use. The fibers of the stem, prepared in the same manner as those of hemp and flax, furnish a very long, fine thread, of a glossy whiteness
Due to Cardiac glycosides and resinoids this plant is toxic in large quantities. The signs of poisoning are Vomiting, stupor, weakness, spasms





Common Milkweed




Common Milkweed




Common Milkweed
Milkweed seeds showing the silk

Comment: Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca

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