Milkweed, Common (Asclepias syriaca)
Family: Milkweed (Asclepiadaceae)
This is a standard midwestern ditch milkweed that has some of the prettiest, baseball-sized flower clusters you'll see anywhere, giving off a heady perfume. Big monarch attraction and food.
Herbaceous perennial native to North America. Medicinally a bit iffy due to the presence of cardio-active glycosides, although the spring shoots are considered edible and tonic. Source of fiber. Plant prefers full sun and dry to mesic soils. Grows happily in poor soil or waste places. Sow seed in early spring. Cool soil germination. Barely cover seed and tamp thoroughly, then keep evenly moist until germination. Thin or transplant to 1 foot apart.
Milkweed pods are also known as the crying milk of the Earth. Monarch butterflies love them, and so do children, who never tire of playing with the plant (at least, I never did), breaking a stem to observe the copious white milk pour out, removing a flower to suck the sugary nectar, opening the pods to reveal the silk parachutes with their precious payloads of gemplasm. Many have tried to utilize the plant over the centuries, touting the young shoots as an asparagus-like wild edible, using the silk to make paper, using the mature stalks as cordage, making a sunblock out of the seed extract--but in the end, it is somehow reassuring simply to have the plant around. It is from here, and despite the efforts of highway departments to eradicate it, will always be here, especially if we keep a little patch in our gardens. This plant can remind us that life is beautiful, whether it be the life of a plant, or the life of a human. Many have forgotten this simple truth. Maybe that's why Milkweed cries.
Packet of 50 organic seeds. Open-pollinated and non-GMO.