Yes, It’s a Weed But….
I have no idea how Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) aka Milkweed came to be in our garden. They just showed up two years ago and have stayed ever since. Getting rid of it proved to be not an easy task, but taming it is quite easy. I just pull the stalk out of the ground.
The first year it showed up, I let it grow without realizing that it would expand outward as its runner travels underground. It’s classified as a weed but I think that’s in the eye of the beholder. Milkweed, for me, is a lovely fragrant flower that I don’t have to take care of. I let Milkweed take up residence in the garden for many reasons. First of all, if you ever smell its flowers you will let it grow too. In a good weather day I merely have to walk by and its perfume finds my nose. The flowers are small and very pretty too.
Milkweed also provides food for Monarch butterfly caterpillars as well. Their population is diminishing since we, humans, are getting rid of Milkweed all along their migration path for the sake of conventional farming. I just hope to be able to save a few, if they are able to get here. I saw a couple of them last year but haven’t seen any this year. I hope it’s because it’s too early for them and not because they didn’t survive.
I can’t ignore how much the bees love the Milkweed’s flowers. The honey bees from our hives don’t have to go too far for their nectar.
And, I can eat them if I want to. I know the liquid that oozes out of the plant will make the skin itch and every part of the plant is toxic if not fully cooked. There are books providing ways to harvest and prepare them, two notable ones are:
- The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer
- Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide by Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman
I haven’t tried eating them yet, just sticking with Dandelion and other flowers I know that are edible like wild Daylily and Moonflower. I know if I think long and hard enough I will be able to come up with more reasons for letting Common Milkweed grow in our garden.