Herb: Canadian Milkvetch


Latin name: Astragalus canadensis


Synonyms: Astragalus carolinianus


Family: Leguminosae



Medicinal use of Canadian Milkvetch:

The root is analgesic and antihaemorrhagic. It can be chewed or used as a tea to treat chest and back pains, coughs and the spitting up of blood. A decoction of the root is used as a febrifuge for children. A poultice made from the chewed root has been used to treat cuts.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

Flovering:
July

Habitat of the herb:

Shores and rich thickets. Rocky and sandy thickets in Texas.

Edible parts of Canadian Milkvetch:

Root - raw or boiled. They were often used in a broth. The roots are gathered in spring or autumn. Some caution is advised, if the root is bitter it could be due to the presence of toxic alkaloids.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing - but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 - 9 weeks or more at 13C if the seed is treated or sown fresh. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of Canadian Milkvetch:

Shores and rich thickets. Rocky and sandy thickets in Texas.

Known hazards of Astragalus canadensis:

Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.