Identifying Poisonous Milkweed

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Milkweed (Asclepias spp) is one of the few plants that is both edible and poisonous. Milkweed is an amazing plant that, even though it is poisonous, I highly recommend people plant it in their yards because it’s such a huge benefit to wildlife. Several insect specials rely on milkweed to survive.

The monarch butterfly is the most commonly known insect that need milkweed to survive. They lay their eggs on milkweed because the caterpillars can only eat milkweed when they are born.

There are numerous beetles, moths, and true bugs that also need milkweed to survive.

Milkweed also is an excellent plant for making string that can be turned into jewelry, baskets, or even clothing! Apparently, the milkweed floss or down, as I call it, is even being tested for use in parkas, gloves and other cold weather gear by the Canadian Coast Guard.

Milkweed is named for the milky substance or latex, which contains cardiac glycosides termed cardenolides.

There are numerous reasons to plant this amazing species in your yard.

As for it’s edible uses, I recommend only harvest a small amount of it (10%) and only from plants you have personally planted and cared for. This is because of its huge ecological value to monarch butterflies and other wildlife.

Identification:

Leaves: Rubbery, smooth, lanceolate.

Stem: Milky, found.

Can spread both from seeds and rhizomes.

Edible Uses:

You can eat the flower buds, shoots, and leaves through 3 or 4 changes of water. If any part of it tastes bitter even after cooking, discard it.

Personally, I haven’t eaten this plant in years. There are many overly abundant, healthy wild plants that you can eat all day without causing ecological harm or possibly poisoning yourself.

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