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Common Names :
Swamp Milkweed, Swamp Butterfly Weed, Marsh Milkweed, Rose Milkweed, Swamp Silkweed, and White Indian Hemp
Habitat :Asclepias incarnata is native to North America. It is found growing in damp to wet soils and also is cultivated as a garden plant for its attractive flowers, which are visited by butterflies and other pollinators due to its copious production of nectar
Swamp milkweed prefers moisture retentive to damp soils in full sun to partial shade and typically, is found growing wild near the edges of ponds, lakes, streams, and low areas—or along ditches. It is one of the best attractors of the Monarch Butterfly, which feeds on the flowers and lays her eggs on the plants. The emerging caterpillars feed on the leaves.
The plants have specialized roots for living in heavy wet soils. The scented, thick, white roots are adapted to live in environments low in oxygen. Blooming occurs in mid to late summer and after blooming; long, relatively thin, rounded, pods are produced that grow uprightly. The pods split open in late summer to late fall, releasing seeds that are attached to silky hairs, which act as parachutes that carry the seeds on the currents of the wind.
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.
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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
Requires a moist soil and a sunny position, doing well by water. Succeeds on dry soils and on all soil types. Plants are hardy to at least -25°c. A very ornamental plant, the flowers are very attractive to butterflies. The flower of many members of this genus can trap insects between its anther cells, the struggles of the insect in escaping ensure the pollination of the plant. Many members of this genus seem to be particularly prone to damage by slugs. The young growth in spring is especially vulnerable, but older growth is also attacked and even well-established plants have been destroyed in wet years. Plants resent root disturbance and are best planted into their final positions whilst small. Special Features:Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Fragrant flowers.
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn or in late winter. We have also had good results from sowing the seed in the greenhouse in early spring, though stored seed might need 2 – 3 weeks cold stratification. Germination usually takes place in 1 – 3 months at 18°c. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out when they are in active growth in late spring or early summer and give them some protection from slugs until they are growing away strongly. Division in spring. With great care since the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and place them in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse until they are growing away strongly, then plant them out in the summer, giving them some protection from slugs until they are established.. Basal cuttings in late spring. Use shoots about 10cm long with as much of their white underground stem as possible. Pot them up individually and place them in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse until they are rooting and growing actively. If the plants grow sufficiently, they can be put into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in the greenhouse until the following spring and when they are in active growth plant them out into their permanent positions. Give them some protection from slugs until they are established.
Edible Uses: .
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 flavour, they are very appetizing. The flower clusters can be boiled down to make a sugary syrup
The tea made from the roots is said to remove tapeworms from the body in one hour. It has also been used in the treatment of asthma, rheumatism, syphilis, worms and as a heart tonic. An infusion of the roots is used as a strengthening bath for children and adults. It is a cathartic and is beneficial in the treatment of arthritis and stomach disorders. Can also be used as an emetic.
Landscape Uses:Border, Foundation, Massing. Prefers a well-drained light rich or peaty soil.
Known Hazards : Although no specific reports have been seen for this species, many, if not all, members of this genus contain toxic resinoids, alkaloids and cardiac glycosides. They are usually avoided by grazing animals. The leaves and the stems might be poisonous.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
- Asclepies asperula (findmeacure.com)
- Yosemite National Park Wildflower Report 8/22/11 (naturalhistorywanderings.com)
- Tradescantia virginiana (findmeacure.com)
- Centaurea calcitrapa (findmeacure.com)
- Milkweed musings (weeklycoolthings.wordpress.com)
- Tales from the Meadow (lifeinbenziecounty.wordpress.com)
- The monarch butterfly: a vanishing species (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Tracking Tetraopes texanus with Terry (beetlesinthebush.wordpress.com)
- Our Garden of Winter Flowers (whitecranes.wordpress.com)
- You: Tagging Monarchs at HMNS (hmns.org)