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Swamp Milkweed
Asclepias incarnata subsp. pulchra

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


Asclepiadaceae Family

Asclepias Genus


Native to N. America. From Quebec to Manitoba and Wyoming, south to Texas and New Mexico

Physical Description
Swamp milkweed is an upright, 100- to 150-centimeter (39- to 59-inches) tall plant, growing from thick, fleshy, white roots. Typically, its stems are branched and the clump forming plants emerge in late spring after most other plants have begun growth for the year. The oppositely arranged leaves are 7 to 15 centimeters (2.75 to 6 inches) long and are narrow and lance-shaped, with the ends tapering to a sharp point.

The plants bloom in early to mid-summer, producing small, fragrant, pink to mauve (sometimes white) colored flowers in rounded umbels. The flower color may vary from darker shades of purple to soft, pinkish purple and a white flowering form exists as well. The flowers have five reflexed petals and an elevated central crown. After blooming, green seed pods, approximately 12 centimeters (4.5 inches) long, are produced that when ripe, split open. They then release light to dark brown, flat seeds that are attached to silver-white silky-hairs ideal for catching the wind. This natural mechanism for seed dispersal is similar to that used by other milkweed plants

General Information

A tea made from the roots is anthelmintic, carminative, diuretic, emetic, strongly laxative, and stomachic. The tea is said to remove tapeworms from the body in one hour. It has also been used in the treatment of asthma, rheumatism, syphilis, and worms and as a heart tonic.

An infusion of the roots is used as a strengthening bath for children and adults

Unopened flower buds - cooked. Tasting somewhat like peas. They can also be dried and stored for later use.
Young shoots - cooked. An asparagus substitute.
Tips of older shoots are cooked like spinach.
Young seed pods, harvested when 3 - 4 cm long - cooked. A pea-like flavor, they are very appetizing.
The flower clusters can be boiled down to make sugary syrup

A good quality fiber is obtained from the bark. It is used in twine, cloth etc. It is easily harvested in late autumn, after the plants have died down, by simply pulling it off the dead stems.
The seed floss is used to stuff pillows etc or is mixed with other fibers to make cloth. It is a Kapok substitute; it is used in Life Jackets or as a stuffing material. It is very water repellent. The floss has also been used to mop up oil spills at sea.
Rubber can be made from latex contained in the leaves and stems
Pods contain an oil and a wax which are of potential importance

Due to Cardiac glycosides in all its parts it is toxic if not handled properly. Symptoms include, vomiting, stupor, weakness, spasms

Swamp Milkweed
With a monarch gathering toxins with the nectar to safegaurd it form predation!

Comment: Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata subsp. pulchra

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