Asclepias syriaca Linn. Asclepiadeae. Milkweed. Silkweed.
North America. Kalm says the French in Canada use the tender shoots of milkweed in spring, preparing them like asparagus, and that they also make a sugar of the flowers; a very good, brown, palatable sugar. Fremont found the Sioux Indians of the upper Platte eating the young pods, boiling them with the meat of the buffalo. Jefferys, in his Natural History of Canada, says: "What they call here the cotton-tree is a plant which sprouts like asparagus to the height of about three feet and is crowned with several tufts of flowers; these are shaken early in the morning before the dew is off of them when there falls from them with the dew a kind of honey, which is reduced into sugar by boiling; the seed is contained in a pod which encloses also a very fine sort of cotton." In 1835, Gen. Dearborn of Massachusetts recommended the use of the young shoots of milkweed as asparagus, and Dewey says the young plant is thus eaten. In France the plant is grown as an ornament.
Asclepias tuberosa Linn. Butterfly Weed. Pleurisyroot. Tuber-Root.
Northeastern America. The tubers are boiled and used by the Indians. The Sioux of the upper Platte prepare from the flowers a crude sugar and also eat the young seed-pods. Some of the Indians of Canada use the tender shoots as an asparagus.