Herbs & Plants

Pleurisy Root

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Botanical Name : Asclepias tuberose
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Asclepias
Species: A. tuberosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Synonyms: Butterfly-weed. Swallow-wort. Tuber Root. Wind Root. Colic Root. Orange Milkweed.

Common Names :  Butterfly Weed, Canada Root, Chieger Flower, Chiggerflower, Fluxroot, Indian Paintbrush, Indian Posy, Orange Milkweed, Orange root, Orange Swallow-wort, Pleurisy Root, Silky Swallow-wort, Tuber Root, Yellow Milkweed, White-root, Windroot, Butterfly Love, Butterflyweed, and Butterfly Milkweed

Habitat : Asclepias tuberose is  native to eastern North America.This plant favors dry, sand or gravel soil, but has also been reported on stream margins. It requires full sun.

Asclepias tuberose is a handsome, fleshy rooted, perennial plant, growing to 0.3–1 metre (1 ft 0 in–3 ft 3 in) tall, with clustered orange or yellow flowers from early summer to early fall. The leaves are spirally arranged, lanceolate, 5–12 cm long, and 2–3 cm broad.


The plant looks similar to the Lanceolate Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata), but is uniquely identified by the larger number of flowers, and the hairy stems that are not milky when broken. It is most commonly found in fields with dry soil.

*Asclepias tuberosa subsp. interior – (Central United States)

*Asclepias tuberosa subsp. rolfsii – Rolfs Milkweed (Southeastern United States)

*Asclepias tuberosa subsp. tuberosa – (Eastern United States)

Most easily propagated by seed. Sewn outdoors after frost, a plant will flower and produce seed in the third year. Difficult to transplant once established. Loewer, Peter ‘Native Perennials For the Southeast‘ Cool Springs Press. Nashville, Tenn. 2005 ISBN 1-59186-121-7

It does not spread easily.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts  used : The rootstock, the part used medicinally, is spindle-shaped and has a knotty crown, slightly but distinctly annulate, the remainder longitudinally wrinkled.

Constituents: The root contains a glucosidal principle, Asclepiadin, which occurs as an amorphous body, is soluble in ether, alcohol and hot water. It also contains several resins, and odorous fatty matter, and a trace of volatile oil. It yields not more than 9 per cent of ash.

Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, expectorant, tonic, carminative and mildly cathartic.

From early days this Asclepias has been regarded as a valuable medicinal plant. It is one of the most important of the indigenous American remedies, and until lately was official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.

It possesses a specific action on the lungs, assisting expectoration, subduing inflammation and exerting a general mild tonic effect on the system, making it valuable in all chest complaints. It is of great use in pleurisy, mitigating the pain and relieving the difficulty of breathing, and is also recommended in pulmonary catarrh. It is extensively used in the Southern States in these cases, also in consumption, in doses of from 20 grains to a drachm in a powder, or in the form of a decoction.

It has also been used with great advantage in diarrhoea, dysentery and acute and chronic rheumatism, in low typhoid states and in eczema. It is claimed that the drug may be employed with benefit in flatulent colic and indigestion, but in these conditions it is rarely used.

In large doses it acts as an emetic and purgative.

A teacupful of the warm infusion (1 in 30) taken every hour will powerfully promote free perspiration and suppressed expectoration. The infusion may be prepared by taking 1 teaspoonful of the powder in a cupful of boiling water.

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.