Herbs & Plants

Asclepias syriaca

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Botanical Name : Asclepias syriaca
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Genus: Asclepias
Species: A. syriaca
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Common Names:Common Milkweed, Butterfly flower, Silkweed, Silky Swallow-wort, Virginia Silkweed

Habitat :Asclepias syriaca is native to most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, excluding the drier parts of the Prairies. It grows in sandy soils and appreciates lots of sunlight. It was one of the earliest North American species described in Cornut’s 1635 Canadensium plantarum historia. The specific name was reused by Linnaeus due to Cornut’s confusion with a species from Asia Minor.

It grows in thickets, roadsides, dry fields and waste places

Asclepias syriaca is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1–2 m tall from a rhizome. The stem and all parts of the plants produce a white latex when broken. The leaves are opposite, simple broad ovate-lanceolate, 7–25 cm long and 3–12 cm broad, usually with an undulate margin and a red-colored main vein. They have a very short petiole and a velvety underside.
The flowers are grouped in several spherical umbels with numerous flowers in each umbel. The individual flowers are small, 1–2 cm diameter, perfumed, with five cornate hoods. The seeds are attached to long, white flossy hairs and encased in large follicles.

It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects, lepidoptera.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

Succeeds in any good soil. Prefers a well-drained light rich or peaty soil. Requires a moist peaty soil and a sunny position. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. A very ornamental plant, though it can be invasive by means of its spreading root system. The flowers diffuse a delicious scent into the garden. This scent attracts bees, who obtain copious supplies of nectar from the plants, though unfortunately the plants do not always flower in Britain. 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. This plant has a very wide range of uses and merits attention as a food, fibre and rubber crop. It was possibly cultivated at one time by the North American Indians for its many uses. It is considered by some to be the greatest underachiever among plants. Its potential appears great, yet until now it has never been continuously processed for commercial purposes. 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.

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     
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Oil;  Oil;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses: Gum;  Oil;  Oil;  Sweetener.

Unopened flower buds – cooked. They taste somewhat like peas. They are used like broccoli. Flowers and young flower buds – cooked. They have a mucilaginous texture and a pleasant flavour, they can be used as a flavouring and a thickener in soups etc. The flower clusters can be boiled down to make a sugary syrup. The flowers are harvested in the early morning with the dew still on them. When boiled up they make a brown sugar. Young shoots – cooked. An asparagus substitute. They should be used when less than 20cm tall. A slightly bitter taste. Tips of older shoots are cooked like spinach. Young seed pods, 3 – 4 cm long, cooked. They are very appetizing. Best used when about 2 – 4cm long and before the seed floss forms, on older pods remove any seed floss before cooking them. If picked at the right time, the pods resemble okra. The sprouted seeds can be eaten. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. The latex in the stems is a suitable replacement for chicle and can be made into a chewing gum. It is not really suitable for use in tyres. The latex is found mainly in the leaves and is destroyed by frost. Yields are higher on dry soils.

Medicinal Uses:
Anodyne;  Contraceptive;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Expectorant;  Homeopathy;  Purgative;  Warts.

The root is anodyne, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant and purgative. It has been used in the treatment of asthma, kidney stones, venereal disease etc. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. An infusion of the pounded roots has been used by the women of some native North American Indian tribes to promote temporary sterility. The leaves and/or the latex are used in folk remedies for treating cancer and tumours. The milky latex from the stems and leaves is used in the treatment of warts. The latex needs to be applied at least daily over a period of up to a few weeks to be effective. The stems can be cooked and applied as a poultice on rheumatic joints. One reported Mohawk antifertility concoction contained milkweed and jack-in-the-pulpit, both considered contraceptive. Dried and pulverized, a fistful of milkweed and three Arisaema rhizomes were infused in a pint of water for 20 minutes. The infusion was drunk, a cupful an hour, to induce temporary sterility. The rhizome is used in homeopathy as an antioedemic and emmenagogue in the treatment of dropsy and dysmenorrhoea.

A root decoction (either fresh or dried) strengthens the heart in a different way from digitalis, and without the foxglove derivative’s toxicity.  It also soothes the nerves and is listed as an emetic, anthelmintic (kills worms) and stomach tonic.  It helps relieve edema probably by strengthening the heart.  It’s also a diaphoretic and expectorant.  It’s used for coughs, colds, arthritis aggravated by the cold, threatened inflammation of the lungs, asthma, bronchitis, female disorders, diarrhea and gastric mucus.  The milky sap is used topically, fresh or dried, to reduce warts.

The root is emetic and cathartic in large doses.  In average doses it is considered diuretic, expectorant and diaphoretic.  It is said to produce temporary sterility if taken as a tea.
HOMEOPATHIC: Used for afflictions of the nerves and the urinary tract and for pressing

Other Uses:
Adhesive;  Fibre;  Gum;  Latex;  Oil;    Pollution;  Stuffing;  Wick.

A good quality fibre is obtained from the inner bark of the stems. It is long and quite strong, but brittle. It can be used in making twine, cloth, paper etc. The fibre is of poor quality in wet seasons. It is easily harvested in late autumn after the plant has died down by simply pulling the fibres off the dried stems. It is estimated that yields of 1,356 kilos per hectare could be obtained from wild plants. The seed floss is used to stuff pillows etc or is mixed with other fibres to make cloth. It is a Kapok substitute, used in Life Jackets or as a stuffing material. Very water repellent, it can yield up to 550 kilos per hectare. The floss absorbs oil whilst repelling water and so has also been used to mop up oil spills at sea. Candlewicks can be made from the seed floss. In cultivation, only 1 – 3% of the flowers produce mature pods. It is estimated that yields of 1,368 kilos per hectare could be obtained from wild plants. Rubber can be made from latex contained in the leaves and the stems. It is found mainly in the leaves and is destroyed by frost. Yields of 197 kilos per hectare can be expected from wild plants, it is estimated that by selection these yields could be increased to 897 kilos. Yields are higher on dry soils. The latex can also be used as a glue for fixing precious stones into necklaces, earrings etc. The latex contains 0.1 – 1.5% caoutchouc, 16 – 17% dry matter, and 1.23% ash. It also contains the digitalis-like mixture of a- and b-asclepiadin, the antitumor b-sitosterol, and a- and b-amyrin and its acetate, dextrose and wax. Pods contain an oil and a wax which are of potential importance. The seed contains up to 20% of an edible semi-drying oil. It is also used in making liquid soap.

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 older leaves are poisonous if eaten in large quantities. The plant contains cardioactive compounds and is potentially toxic.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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Herbs & Plants

Showy Milkweed

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Botanical Name :Asclepias speciosa
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Genus: Asclepias
Species: A. speciosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Common Names: Showy Milkweed, Greek Milkweed(don’t ask me) and Common Milkweed.

Habitat :It is native to the western half of North America.Showy milkweed is widespread  throughout the western states from Texas north to  British Columbia.

This flowering plant is a hairy, erect perennial. The large, pointed, bananalike leaves are arranged opposite on the stalklike stem. The eye-catching furry pale pink to pinkish-purple flowers are arranged in thick umbels. Their corollas are reflexed and the central flower parts, five hoods with prominent hooks, are star-shaped. The fruit is a large, rough follicle filled with many flat oval seeds with luxuriant silky plumes.
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Thriving in poor, dry , well-drained soil, it’s tough and vigorous with gorgeous large silvery-green, soft-to-the-touch leaves. Atop the 3′ to 4′ stems, the remarkably FRAGRANT large round clusters are 4″ to 5″ across and made up of lovely velvety pink and white star-like flowers. Bloom season occurs late Spring to late Summer.

Asclepias speciosa is a specific Monarch butterfly food and habitat plant.

Many Native American peoples use all parts of this plant for a great number of medicinal uses and ate some parts as a food.

It needs sun. It is quite drought tolerant,(not in the same league though as Asclepias A. eriocarpa, erosa or californica ) plant, water well first summer and ignore. Tolerates alkaline soils and most gardens. Needs cross-pollination for fruit and seed development.

Pollen is self-incompatible alkaloids associated with this plant give the butterflies that feed on it protection. The alkaloids associated with this plant give the butterflies that feed on it protection.

Propagation :
Reproduction occurs from seed, roots that spread horizontally and send up new shoots, and from severed pieces of root. Each plant can produce from hundreds to thousands of seeds. Growth nodes occur along the roots, and each node can produce a new plant. The silky, feathery exterior of the seed facilitates spread by both water and wind. The seed attachment also clogs screens of combines during harvest.

Chemical Constituents:
Three chemicals have proven effective on showy milkweed: 1) amitrole (Amizol-T); 2) picloram (Tordon); and 3) glyphosate (Roundup). 2,4-D can be mixed with the  picloram and  glyphosate.

Edible Uses:

The young shoots, stems, flower buds, immature fruits, and roots of showy milkweed were boiled and eaten as a vegetable by various indigenous groups of eastern and mid-western America.
In some areas the young leaves and stems were used as greens. The flowers were also eaten raw or boiled, and the buds were boiled for soup or with meat. The most common use for these plants, recorded among almost all the tribes throughout California, was to obtain a kind of chewing gum from the sap of Asclepias speciosa. The sticky white sap was heated slightly until it became solid, then added to salmon fat or deer grease.

Pueblo people ate green milkweed pods and uncooked roots from one of the species that forms fleshy tubers underground.

Medicinal Uses;
The sap of Asclepias speciosa was used as a cleansing and healing agent by some of the desert tribes for sores, cuts, and as a cure for warts and ringworm. The silky hairs were burned off the ripe seeds, which were then ground and made into a salve for sores. Seeds were boiled in a small amount of water and the liquid used to soak rattlesnake bites to draw out the poison. A hot tea made from the roots was given to bring out the rash in measles or as a cure for coughs. It was also employed as a wash to cure rheumatism. The mashed root, moistened with water, was used as a poultice to reduce swellings.

Other Uses:

Fibers from the stems of milkweed have been identified in prehistoric textiles in the Pueblo region. Tewa-speaking people of the Rio Grande still make string and rope from these fibers. At Zuni, the silky seed fibers are spun on a hand-held wooden spindle and made into yarn and woven into fabric, especially for dancers.

Known Hazards:
There are reports that it is increasing in abundance throughout parts of its range. Showy milkweed is a plant of concern because it can be toxic to sheep, cattle, horses and domestic fowl. It is most toxic during rapid growth, but retains its toxicity when dried in hay. Fast growth occurs when temperatures are warm and soil moisture is abundant.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Click to access FS0360.pdf

Click to access cs_assp.pdf

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Herbs & Plants


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Botanical Name: Calotropis gigantea/Asclepias syrica or Asclepias Gigantea
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales
Genus: Calotropis
Species: C. gigantea
Common Names: Milkweed, Rui (madar) In India it is called Akand,Gurakand,Akanda,Swe-Takand in English it is called Bowstring Hemp, Madar,Gigantic Swallowwort and Milkwed.

Habitat :Throughout india on plains on wastelands. A common shurb of wasteland and rode side. the leaves are thick, opposite, decussate in arrangement and coated with white powder. flowers are in umble and blue in colour.

It grows throughout most of the United States; this species is not found in the Western states, but similar milkweeds are available: found in old fields, roadsides, meadows, waste places and disturbed habitats.

Originnative to the United States and Canada

The common milkweed is thick-stemmed and upright.  It grows to be 3-5 feet tall.  Its leaves are elliptical, and opposite; they are velvety on their upper surface, and downy underneath.  They are 4-9 inches long and quite wide.

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The pinkish-purple flower buds look like loose broccoli; the flower itself is large and made up of individual florets gathered in an umbrella shaped globe that droops from the stem.  The stem is hairy.  The seed pods are the most recognizable feature of the common milkweed; they are green, elliptical shaped and about 1-4 inches in length with a pointed tip; inside, they contain myriad seeds with silky parachute-like attachments.  Another easily recognizable characteristic of the common milkweed is the profuse, milky white sap that flows from any broken part.

Common milkweed is a member of the Asclepiadaceae, or milkweed, family.  Its relatives include other milkweeds such as swamp milkweed, the butterfly weed, and showy milkweed.  The butterfly weed and Western states versions of milkweed are toxic.

In lore, legend and life: In World War II, children in the United States were encouraged to collect milkweed pods and turn them in to the government, where the fluffy silk was used to stuff lifevests and flying suits.  The silk was especially good because of its exceptional buoyancy and lightweight. Also in World War II, because of the shortage of natural rubber, scientists in the United States tried to turn common milkweed’s latex into a rubber like substitute.

Monarch butterflies are particularly attracted to the flowers of the common milkweed and other milkweed relatives.

In Hindu mythology, relatives of the common milkweed were considered to be the king of plants; it was believed that the creating god was under the influence of milkweed juice when he created the universe.
Click to see :->Scarlet Milkweed 

Active constituents:- beta carotene, vitamin C, latex, alkaloids, asclepiadin, volatile oils

Medicinal uses :-
Dry leaf powder used for treating wounds and boils. leaves found to be effective on elephantiasis.
flowers along with jaggery are useful against cough and improving appetite.
the mixture of latex, turmeric and sesame oil, useful in treating scabies.Leaves and flowers used for worshiping lord Hanuman. position : Very common.

Common milkweed has been used traditionally a tea prepared from its root as a diuretic for kidney stones, a laxative, and an expectorant.  It has been used to treat asthma and bronchitis and it induces sweating.  The sap has been used for chewing gum, which is considered very dangerous because of the presence of cardioactive compounds in the plant. The sap has also been used as a topical remedy for worts, ringworm and moles.  Some Native Americans used milkweed as a contraceptive. It was also a folk remedy for cancer. Today, milkweed has limited medicinal use; other milkweed species, such as the swamp milkweed, have more widespread use. Parts of the milkweed plant can be eaten, but the similarity of this plant to toxic look-alikes would serve as a caution against this practice. It is used by some as an emetic, a potion to sooth the nerves, and as a stomach tonic.  It is also believed to kill parasitic worms.

Click to see it’s different Ayurvedic medicinal uses :-.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein ,  is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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