Asclepias syriaca. Milkweed, Common Silkweed.
Synonym: Asclepias cornuti.
Description: Natural Order, Asclepiadaceae. This is the milkweed so common in roads and fields and barren places, throughout America. Stem two to four feet high, erect, stout, rarely branched. Leaves opposite, five to eight inches long, two to three inches broad, oblong-ovate, short-acuminate, downy beneath, pale, spreading, on short petioles. Flowers on stout peduncles, axillary, in globose and dense umbels, nodding, from fifty to one hundred greenish-purple flowers in each umbel, most of the flowers ultimately abortive. Fruit one or two follicles on each peduncle, oval, pointed, drooping, three inches long by an inch or more in diameter, covered with soft and warty spines, filled with flat, umber-colored seeds with an abundant crown of long, white silk on each. July and August.
Properties and Uses: The root of this plant, with many practitioners, bears a good name for a relaxing, stimulating and lightly tonic action upon the kidneys; and also upon the uterus. It is thus reputed of value in dropsy, achings of the back, and general feebleness of renal action; in passive amenorrhea; and as a diuretic addition to preparations for scrofula and syphilis. I have found its action on the kidneys slow, but well marked; but suspected it of causing a sort of languid condition resembling a form of narcotism, and so discontinued its use. Possibly I was mistaken in this; yet many class the root among the anodynes; and Prof. S. E. Carey tells me he has found the half-dried root quite nauseating, and inclined to induce persistent and protracted vomiting. I am of the opinion that it is a suspicious article.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com