Herb: California Milkweed


Latin name: Asclepias californica


Family: Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed Family)



Medicinal use of California Milkweed:

The dried and powdered plant can be applied to spider bites.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
45 cm
(1 foot)

Habitat of the herb:

Dry slopes below 2200 metres in California.

Edible parts of California Milkweed:

The milky sap of the plant can be boiled until thick and then chewed like chewing gum. The leaves can be roasted and then chewed.

Other uses of the herb:

Rubber can be made from latex contained in the stems and leaves.

Propagation of California Milkweed:

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn or in late winter. We have also had good results from sowing the seed in the greenhouse in early spring, though stored seed might need 2 - 3 weeks cold stratification. Germination usually takes place in 1 - 3 months at 18C. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out when they are in active growth in late spring or early summer and give them some protection from slugs until they are growing away strongly. Division in spring. With great care since the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and place them in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse until they are growing away strongly, then plant them out in the summer, giving them some protection from slugs until they are established. Basal cuttings in late spring. Use shoots about 10cm long with as much of their white underground stem as possible. Pot them up individually and place them in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse until they are rooting and growing actively. If the plants grow sufficiently, they can be put into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in the greenhouse until the following spring and when they are in active growth plant them out into their permanent positions. Give them some protection from slugs until they are established.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry slopes below 2200 metres in California.

Known hazards of Asclepias californica:

Although no specific reports have been seen for this species, many, if not all, members of this genus contain toxic resinoids, alkaloids and cardiac glycosides. They are usually avoided by grazing animals.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.