July 21, 2017

Milkweed

Swamp Milkweed
(Asclepias incarnata) Found in wet, marshy areas, swamp milkweed is a perennial herb that blossoms in July and August. The flower head is smaller than the common field Milkweed, and its leaves are narrow and pointed. The flowers are a soft, rosy pink.

Its stems are branched,smooth, and filled with milky sap, and can be up to five feet tall with smooth leaves that are narrow and pointed. The swamp milkweed’s seed pods burst open to release brown seeds crowned with white hairs that carry the seeds on the wind like tiny parachutes.

When crushed, the stem of the swamp milkweed yields a milky juice that early settlers used as a glue. American colonists used the plant to treat asthma, rheumatism and syphilis, and as a heart tonic. The swamp milkweed, along with other species of milkweed, is the preferred food of the monarch butterfly caterpillar.