Wikijunior:Summer Flowers of Northern New England/Asclepias syriaca

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(Asclepias syriaca)
Flower cluster
Seed pods
Milkweed is a plant that usually grows about three feet tall, but sometimes it can grow as tall as a man. It produces a round cluster of pink flowers. Each flower has five petals. The leaves are a couple of inches wide and about six inches long. They are also pretty thick. Every part of the plant will produce a milky sap when broken open. That's where it gets the name Milkweed. But don't drink this milk! It is very bitter, and just slightly poisonous. Every part of the plant other than the sap is edible and it actually tastes pretty good! The sap can be removed from the plant by boiling it in several changes of water. If you wish to try this, you will need two pots of boiling water - one large, and one small. When they are both boiling, drop the leaves, flowers, stems, or young seed pods into the smaller pot and let it boil for about a minute. Then pour most of the water off. Add more boiling water to the small pot from the large pot and boil for another minute. Do this about six times. Then add butter or margarine and enjoy the feast.

Quick Facts:
Monarch butterflies live on Milkweed. The sap does not bother them at all, and in fact, since they eat so much of it, it makes them taste terrible to birds. Birds soon learn this and look for their dinner somewhere else!

Whole plant