Uses for Milkweed

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.)

 Caution: Do not get milkweed sap in your eyes wash your hands thoroughly after handling the plant. Also, some people may develop an allergic reaction when the sap touches the skin.

Description - There are many other variations of milkweed they are similar in use

Common Milkweed grows up to six feet tall. It has large, broad leaves, usually four to ten inches long. They sometimes have red veins.Pink to purple flowers. Green pods. Upright or erect. Found in Thickets on the roadsides, dry fields and waste places.
It is another easy to cultivate plant.

Time of  year Main bloom time is early summer to early fall

Location: Eastern to Kansas 
Click here for Map.  If it does not grow in your area do a search to see what type does. 

Nutrient Content
Potassium, Protein and Iron

You can eat the flowers, leaves, oil, seeds and seedpods.

Edible Uses

  • Cook the unopened flower buds (taste like peas)
  • Pods can be used as flavor or soup thickeners
  • Boil pods down to make a syrup tastes like brown sugar
  • Young shoots are like asparagus
  • The older the plant get the more bitter the taste tips of older shoots are cooked like spinach
  • You can even press an oil out of the seeds.
  • The latex in the stems is a suitable replacement for chicle and can be made into a chewing gum

Medical Uses 

  • The root is anodyne, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant and purgative
  • Infusions of the roots and leaves in a tea can be taken to suppress coughs and used to treat fever and asthma and help with the passing of kidney stones.
  • The milky latex from the stems and leaves is used in the treatment of warts
  • The stems can be cooked and applied as a poultice on rheumatic joints

Other Uses
  • The seed floss from the pods can be used to stuff pillows and be mixed with other fibers to make cloth (some lifejackets actually use the seed floss for the stuffing!) it is about six times more buoyant than cork!
  • Candlewicks can be made from the seed floss
  • The oil can be used in making liquid soap
  •  A good quality fiber is obtained from the inner bark of the stems when the season is dry and can be used to make twine, cloth and paper.
Click here on how to make the cordage.


  1. Thank Charles :) I have a personal attachment to this plant. When researching and documenting the history of the community I live in (big in railroad history) I learned that the one of the milkweed plants was found here and named. So we dubbed it the unofficial plant of my community and now let them grow in our gardens.