Asclepias syriaca, Common Milkweed
The Cherokee Nation was reported to combine the roots of A. syriaca and the roots of “virgin’s bower” to lessen the pain of backaches. They were also known to use the plant in the treatment of a number of ailments including dropsy, kidney stones, venereal diseases, and as a laxative. They were also known to use the fibers as bowstrings. The Chippewa Nation was reported to cut up the flowers, stew them, and eat the product as preserves. Tender leaves, young green seedpods, sprouts, and tops were also cooked as greens. The Pawnee, Ponca, and Pottawatomi were also reported to cook and eat the flowers, young sprouts, and pods.
A. syriaca are stunning and fragrant wildflowers that make perfect additions to sunny gardens and restoration sites. They propagate through seed dispersal as well as specialized stems called rhizomes. A. syriaca prefers disturbed habitats. The flowers are attractive butterflies, bees, and beetles. With their large foliage, they are excellent milkweed species for growing monarch caterpillars.