* Leaves opposite and paired,
broad, leathery, with pointed tips, sometimes somewhat wavy, 5-7".
* Flowers subtly colored, with colors ranging from dusty rose to lavender
to dull brownish-purple. In dome-like clusters.
* Seedpods pointed, gray-green, warty.
* Seeds flat, brown, 1/5", attached to soft down, clustered inside pod.
* Height: 3-5'.
* Flowers June - August.
* Habitat: Roadsides, meadows, dry soil.
* Range: Southern Canada south.
* Butterflies, bees, and other insects
feed on the nectar of milkweed.
* The genus was named after Asklepios, the Greek god of medicine.
There are 2,850 species in the milkweed family.
* "During World War II a call went out from the government for
milkweed pods. Boy and girl scouts, civic groups, farmers and
collectors all over North America scoured the countryside for
milkweeds, collected and dried the pods, and shipped them to
central collecting stations... Milkweed floss is 5 or 6 times
as buoyand as cork, and it was soon discovered that a life jacket
containing a few pounds of this floss could hold up a 150-pound
man in the sea. It is warmer than wool and 6 times lighter. Flying
suits lined with milkweed floss are warm and light-weight, and,
if an aviator falls into the ocean, the suit will act as a life
-Harold Moldenke, in American Wild Flowers, 1949
* In 1790, Italian voyager Luigi Castiglioni wrote that "...the
mountaineers of Virginia made cloth from the outer covering of
the stalks of this plant."
* During the 1860's, Salem, Massachusetts was a site for the
milkweed industry. The silk was used to stuff pillows, cushions,
and mattresses, and thread, purses, netting, and socks were made
from various other parts of the plant.