Date: Mon, 5 Feb 1996 07:57:33 -0500
From: Chuck Coker <astrasfo.WP.WO.BLM.GOV>
Subject: Any use for Milkweed (Asclepias spp.)? - Reply
> In the northeast US, milkweed roots can be roasted and eaten as a survival food. I've never tried eating them, but I'm told they were delicious, although maybe you have to be really hungry to enjoy them. Whether this is the same milkweed as the one you have is questionable, so I wouldn't try eating it. Chances are the locals have a good reason for avoiding it!
I've been examining all of the local flora here on the Hualapai Reservation in Arizona to see what medicinal (and other) uses there are. I have come across a *huge* (miles long) stand of, *I think*, Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) in a place called, appropriately, Milkweed Canyon (topographic maps: Milkweed Canyon SW, Arizona, and Milkweed Canyon NW, Arizona--roughly the area 35 37'30" N by 113 45'00" W). The local elevation for this stand ranges from about 4,800 feet down to about 4,400 feet--a relatively flat canyon along this stretch. The soil conditions are fairly moist for this area. (The Hualapai name for this plant is Ilwithuj, if that helps anyone--I can't seem to find a good picture in any books.) When asking around about the Hualapai uses for this plant, the answer I get from everyone is: none. I've been told that this plant is poisonous to livestock, so I suspect that it would be poisonous to me as well. Is anyone familiar with this plant? And if so, are there any uses for it? For anything, medicinal or otherwise? I can find very little information about this plant. I picked a sample plant bare-handed (a practice I try to avoid with unknown plants) and have had no adverse effects, i.e. itching, rash, stickers, etc.
From: Peter Gail <PETERGAIL.AOL.COM>
Asclepias syriaca is the edible milkweed, but the white milky juice contains alkaloids and is quite poisonous. Just a little can make you very sick. Preparation of Asclepias syriaca is to take young shoots (being careful not to confuse them with Apocynum- dogbane or indian hemp), young bud clusters or young fruits (before the hair starts forming), pour boiling water over or plunge into boiling water, cook 2-3 minutes, drain, pour more boiling water over and repeat, then cook it a final 2 minutes in a third change of water. Serve with butter, salt and pepper. It is one of our family's favorite vegetables when prepared this way. DON'T put it in cold water and cook it. This fixes the alkaloids. I have never heard of eating the roots. If anyone has documented info on this, I'd love to know about it.
From: Paul Bernier <pbernier.ESCAPE.COM>
>food. I've never tried eating them, but I'm told they were delicious,
I don't know of any medicinal uses of milkweed, but I can testify that they are darn good to eat. I've eaten the young shoots, the tender leaves, the unopened flowers as well as the pods (when they are still young). Try them. You'll at least have the benefit of organic greens. The secret of eating them is getting rid of the milky sap, which is sticky and extremely bitter. You can do this by pouring boild water on them and boiling for about a minute. Throw out the water and repeat. (Don't start with cold water). Try them; they're delicious with a bit of butter, or covered with gravy.
From: Peter Gail <PETERGAIL.AOL.COM>
Just to underline, in no uncertain terms, the necessity of pouring boiling water over any milkweed part ;you wish to use, and then doing it again, so that the plant material is boiled in at least 2 changes of water. The bitter alkaloids in the juice are toxic. A friend once ate a very small bite of a pod which still retained some bitterness, and was deathly sick for a week. It was so bad he wanted to die. So if any bitterness is tasted at all, don't ingest, spit it out. Once the bitterness is removed, it is one of the best vegetables going. Lambsquarters and milkweed are our family's two favorite green vegetables.