Sunday, June 23, 2013

Butterfly Milkweed

Butterfly Milkweed Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflies of all kind perch on top of the floral bouquet. Each individual floret has five petals and is shaped like a tulip. A vertical slit allows the butterflies foot to slip inside detaching pollen. Leaves are lance shaped and alternate along a hairy stem.

Although this is a Milkweed, it has no milky sap.

Medicinal Uses

[Warning, don't think about trying this yourself!]

The Butterfly Milkweed root has medicinal uses. Native American Plains tribes including the Omahas, Poncas, and Dakotas; and Menominis from Wisconsin all used the plant. The root was chewed to treat throat and lung ailments. The root could also be chewed and applied to cuts and sores. The root was dried and pulverized for later use. European Americans recognized the plant's medicinal properties, nicknaming it Pleurisy Root.

The root also acts as an emetic. It has been used to treat colic, act as a contraceptive, and treat diarrhea.

The U.S. Pharmacopoeia listed the plant from 1820 to 1905 and the National Formulary from 1916 to 1936. The active compounds in milkweeds include cardiac glycosides which are poisonous to humans and cattle.  Monarch butterfly caterpillars utilize these chemicals for their own protection.

Images were taken at Lake El Dorado June 22, 2013.

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