Friday, June 12, 2009

The Awesome Milkweed...!


I started to post a rant today about people that avoid telling the truth...better known as LIARS!!

However, I realised that I was too angry to be objective. So instead, I want to offer up a bit of information I found in the Old Farmer's Almanac ! I really love this book and all the information it contains!

COMMON MILKWEED (Asclepias syriaca) is the best known of the 100 or so milkweed species native to North America. The name "common" fits the plant well because when not in bloom, it goes pretty much unnoticed, growing humbly along roadsides, in fields, and in wastelands.

Beneath its dull, gray-green exterior, milkweed is full of uncommon surprises. Inside the plant is a sticky white sap that contains a mild poison with a bitter taste that warns away many of the animals and insects that try to eat its tender leaves. Certain insects, including monarch butterfly larvae, are immune to the toxin; by feeding almost exclusively on milkweed leaves, they are able to accumulate enough of the poison in their bodies to make them distasteful to predators.

Native Americans taught early European settlers how to properly prepare and cook the young shoots, leaves, pods, buds, and rosy-pink blossoms so that they could be safely eaten. (Eating milkweed is not recommended today.) The milky white sap was applied topically to remove warts, and the roots were chewed to cure dysentery. Infusions of the roots and leaves were taken to suppress coughs and used to treat typhus fever and asthma. The stem's tough, stringy fibers were twisted into strong twine and rope, or woven into coarse fabric. In milkweed's rough pods was another wonderful surprise. The fluffy white floss, attached to milkweed's flat brown seeds, could be used to stuff pillows, mattresses, and quilts and was carried as tinder to start fires. During World War II, the regular material used to stuff life jackets was in short supply, so milkweed floss was called for as a substitute—it is about six times more buoyant than cork!

Over the years, researchers have investigated growing milkweed for paper making, textiles, and lubricants, and as a substitute for fossil fuels and rubber. Although these experiments were found economically unfeasible at the time, perhaps they should be revisited, given the rising costs of fuel and other materials. In current research, a chemical extracted from the seed is being tested as a pesticide for nematodes. We doubt if this surprisingly useful plant will run out of surprises anytime soon.

– –George and Becky Lohmiller


I think I need to read up on "weeds" a bit more...as I don't know anywhere near the information that I should about wild plants. I'm probably not the only one...ya think?

Now, my friends, lets take our coffee to the patio and sit for a while, OK?

28 comments:

Meadowlark said...

Very little is as satisfying as looking someone in the eye and stating loud and clear: "...PANTS ON FIRE..."

They always get the message. :)
And it's just childish enough to amuse me.

HermitJim said...

Hey Meadowlark...
Funny you should say that!

That particular saying has been going through my mind most of the afternoon! Funny how some things stick with us from childhood, isn't it?

Hey, thanks for taking the time to drop in, ML...

Wyn Boniface said...

I am trying to re-learn and learn stuff I knew or stuff I am discovering for the first time concerning plants.

HermitJim said...

Hey Wyn...
There is so much information out there about plants that would be very useful in an emergency, I feel bad that I don't know more! Gonna have to pick up my learning activities, I reckon!

Thanks for coming by tonight!

Felinae said...

Hi Uncle Hermit,

I'm sorry somebody made you that angry :(

I hope you are feeling a little better now :)

But, because of that anger you shared with all of us some very useful information about the milkweed. So something good came out of it, in a way.

Now how about a slice of homemade apple pie to go along with that coffee?

Hugs~Felinae~

HermitJim said...

Hey Felinae...
Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! Home made apple pie! Makes my tongue wanna reach up and slap my brains out!

I know that I shouldn't let folks get to me to the point where I start getting all negative and stuff, but sometimes I just nearly lose it, ya know?

I do appreciate you coming by for a visit...and for the pie! I needed both!

Ken said...

...yep,definately have to read more on plants,thats fer sure...everything we would ever need can be provided by 'em...



...well i would still harvest a bunny or three,a few squirrels now and then...but everything else can be provided by plants...lol

HermitJim said...

Hey Ken...
So many things can be provided for us by Ma Nature if we only recognise it!

You can bet I'm on the same page as far as the fresh meat, along with some fresh caught fish, is gonna be on the menu from time to time!

I'm thinking that we may all have to learn a bit more about making do with what's already there for us, ya know?

I sure appreciate the visit, my brother!

Did it MY way said...

And stupid me. I thought you were supposed to smoke weed. Oh that's weeds we were talking about. Wild plants could save your life.

We should never stop learning.

I'll take a slice of that pie with my coffee today. Thank you

HermitJim said...

Hey Tony...
Guess tht you and I are showing our age, huh? As they say, though...nerver too old to learn!

Hey, thanks for the visit this morning!

Rae said...

Well I am certainly glad you were able to count to 10 before you said the wrong thing. I wish I could learn how to do that. I am a terrible hot head but no mouth control when angry.

Interesting milkweed info. Talk about a muti-purpose weed. WOW.
RAE

HermitJim said...

Hey Rae...
In my younger years, I just got mad and blew up, but as I get a little older I concentrate more on just taking a deep breath, calming down, and getting even!

Glad you liked the information ...the Almanac is great for stuff like this!

Hey, thanks for coming by, Rae...

YeOldFurt said...

Morning HermitJim,
I am SO far behind the learning curve on plants, I need to carry around a whole plantologist, and that'd be bad for my back. I am seriously ignorant about plants and weeds. I know I need to do something about that. Need some good books with photos.
YeOldFurt

HermitJim said...

Hey YOF...
I'm thinking that there is a lot of us that are in the same boat. Guess we ought to find a good referrence book, maybe pocket size, that we could study and the keep with our preps.

Might come in handy!

Thanks for coming by this morning, buddy!

Kyddryn said...

Good morning, Mister Hermit, Sir.

Oh, I AM sorry you have occasion to be angry...life is too short for that. Lying is a waste, I think...although I must admit to having done it once or twice (or a thousand times over the years) when I truly believed it was for the greater good...and when I was a child and it came as easy as breathing and seemed preferable to the consequences of truth.

Grown, now, I find truth preferable, even when it hurts. Less to keep up with...and I am a lazy woman. I don't want to work that hard.

The milkweed...how had I fogotten that? Popping open the pods and playing with the floss, pretending it was fairy silk...

Thanks for the reminder...

Shade and Sweetwater,
K (who hopes your day improves)

HermitJim said...

Hey K...
I know what you mean about preferring the truth. Being from Texas, I may have stretched the truth a wee bit when I was younger...OK, a LOT...but I have since changed my wicked ways (mostly!).

The poor old milkweed has gotten a bum rap for a long time, I think.

Like the article said, maybe we should take a second look at it's possible benefits.

Hey, I sure do thank you for dropping by today!

JoJo said...

Good morning Mr. Hermit,
Sad to hear someone made you angry yesterday, They had to lie about something important to make you that upset.
There is a ground cover here that also is very sticky and gives off a milky gooey substance. It is hard to control and one day luckly I was out in the yard when I notice
something fluttering. It was a small bird stuck on this nasty plant. I was able to release and it hadn't hurt itself and flew off.
Maybe I should start reading the Almanac.
Hope you have a better day.
JoJo

HermitJim said...

Hey JoJo...
It would be interesting to know the name of that plant! Glad that you were there to release the little bird!

I'm really glad you could stop by...

Stephanie in AR said...

Hermit, you might try stopping by your local extension office and seeing what free materials they offer. Ours offers a small booklet on tree ID, one for common weeds, not to mention all the growing sheets (veg, fruit, animal). The check the tourist info center. Ours has lists of wildflowers, birds, and butterflies in different pamphlet form. It narrows down the big ID books to something more manageable. We have been trying to use them in our homeschool. With internet it is pretty simple to search for an image to go with the lists. I did a search awhile back for a fellow homeschooler & it seems that Texas has some good sites but since the state is so big it goes by area much more than little Arkansas.

Phelan said...

I kind of wish you ranted, would have made me feel a whole lot better about my post yesterday. Now I am feeling down right pissy. Aw well, I'll get over it like a commenter told me to. Here is were I curse like Yosemite Sam. :D

Weeds are a fun topic. There are so many things that people rip up that are rather useful.

HermitJim said...

Hey Stephanie...
I hate to admit this, but I never even thought about that! Shame on me for missing such an obvious source of information!

Thanks for coming by and for the reminder...


Hey Phelan...
Don't think I didn't want to rant a bit myself! Sometimes there is nothing that feels better than letting something out!

I am overdue for blowing off steam, believe me! Guess we all have days like that!

Hey, thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment, Phelan!

Maitreya said...

Thanks for the milkweed info. I didn't know it was used for fiber. Most weeds you see growing by the road or waste areas are edible or useful.
The Peterson field guide to edible wild plants of North America is a great guide.
It's pocket sized, has good drawings and descriptions with some color photos, and tells you what part of the plant is used and how to prepare it.
I can walk around anywhere and find at least 3 edible plants. Well, anywhere except west Texas maybe....no offence Jim.
Is tumbleweed edible?

Jojo, I'm willing to bet your groundcover is asian jasmine. Does it have shiny dark green leaves a little bigger than your thumbnail? Is it a vine?
Most plants with milky sap are poisonous, except the humble dandelion which has many edible parts. You can even dry and grind the roots for a coffee substitute (no caffeine though, add some dried yaupon holly for that)
I'll take real coffee though, given a choice.

HermitJim said...

Hey Maitreya...
There are a lot of West Texas desert planys that are edible and useful for things like shampoo! I'll have to do a post about some of them for you!

Thanks for the info for JoJo...I'm sure she will appreciate it!

I certainly am glad you could drop by for a visit today...

Catman said...

Darn!

I'll have wee bit more respect for this plant!

HermitJim said...

Hey Catman...
Hard to believe, ain't it? I mean, who'da thunk it...that ugly old weed being so useful!

Thanks for dropping in, Catman!

JoJo said...

Maitreya, thanks for the clue, I looked it up and that is not it. The leaf is very tiny and dark green and has little darker spots that run on each side of the center, the plant is very sticky, and gets tiny little purple flowers. I will try to take a picture of it tomorrow.
Thanks for trying to help figure it out. We kind of have the same plants here as Mr. Hermit. Yes tumble weeds :)
JoJo

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Well, i'm with Did It My Way...
in the singular sense...
Beats a brewskie ANY day...

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

That is some interesting information on milkweed Jim. I have heard the word before, but I don't even know what it looks like. I'll bet we have it here up north too, but I'm not sure. I'll have to look into it.