Herb: Purple Silkweed
Latin name: Asclepias lanceolata
Family: Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed Family)
Medicinal use of Purple Silkweed:The latex is used as a cure for warts.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Swamps, mostly near the coast.
Edible parts of Purple Silkweed:The following uses have been recorded for the closely related A. rubra. They probably also apply to this closely related species. Flower buds - cooked as potherbs or added to soups. Young shoots and leaves - cooked as potherbs or added to soups. Young seed pods, 3 - 4 cm long, cooked. Flower clusters can be boiled down to make a sugary syrup. A chewing gum can be made from the latex contained in the stem and leaves, but it is possibly toxic.
Other uses of the herb:The following uses have been recorded for many other members of this genus, it is fairly safe to assume they can also be applied to this species. A fibre is obtained from the bark. It is used in twine, coarse cloth, paper etc. The seed floss is used to stuff pillows etc or is mixed with other fibres to make cloth. It is a Kapok substitute, used in Life Jackets or as a stuffing material. It is very water repellent. The floss has also been used to mop up oil spills at sea. Rubber can be made from latex contained in the leaves and the stems.
Propagation of Purple Silkweed: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 18°C. 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:Swamps, mostly near the coast.
Known hazards of Asclepias lanceolata: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.