Asclepias curassavica (Tropical Milkweed)
This is a very common milkweed in the United States. It grows from Texas to Florida, and westward into Mexico.
The seeds of this milkweed are used for making paper pulp. They have been found to be effective at removing heavy metals such as lead and mercury from water.
The common name for A. curassavica is "milkweed" or "butterfly weed". This plant has been used throughout history for medicinal purposes. There is evidence that Native Americans used milkweeds to treat asthma, coughs, colds, and other respiratory ailments. Milkweed was also used to treat snakebites, skin infections, and eye diseases.
Growing and Caring for Asclepias curassavica
• Plant in full sun or partial shade.
• Water regularly during dry periods.
• Mulch around plants with straw or leaves to conserve moisture.
• Keep soil moist but not soggy.
• Fertilize monthly with a balanced fertilizer.
• Prune back spent flower stalks after bloom.
• Cut off seed pods when they turn brown.
• Remove dead or diseased stems.
Asclepias curassavica and wildlife
Many animals eat the seeds of milkweeds. Some mammals, including deer, mice, rabbits, and groundhogs, eat the leaves.
Some insects feed on milkweed. These include aphids, leafhoppers, mealybugs, mites, thrips, and spider mites.
Some butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed. These butterflies include monarchs, painted ladies, swallowtails, and viceroys.
Other insects that visit milkweed include beetles, flies, grasshoppers, ants, wasps, and spiders.
Milkweed is sometimes called “the butterfly weed” because many butterflies lay their eggs on it. Butterflies that lay their eggs on milkweeds include monarchs, painted lady, and viceroy.
Milkweed attracts birds and other wildlife. Many birds eat the seeds. Other animals eat the leaves and flowers.
Milkweed helps control pests. Insects that eat milkweed include aphids, leaf hoppers, mealy bugs, mites, and spider mites
Milkweed is useful for controlling weeds. When you cut down milkweed, it prevents other weeds from growing.
Is Asclepias curassavica poisonous?
No. Milkweed contains no toxic chemicals. However, if you get milkweed juice in your eyes, wash out immediately with cool running water. If you do not remove the juice quickly enough, it could cause serious damage to your eye.
How does milkweed help clean up polluted waterways?
Milkweed removes pollutants from water. Pollutants include heavy metals such as lead, mercury,arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, zinc, nickel, and silver; pesticides such as DDT.
Uses of Asclepias curassavica
The leaves of the plant are used for treating diarrhea, malaria, dysentery, and rheumatism. The seeds are used as food and medicine. The roots are used as a diuretic, purgative.
Leaves can be made into tea and taken internally to treat diarrhea, dysentery, malaria, and rheumatics.
Roots can be boiled and then dried and powdered to make a powder that can be mixed with honey and given to children who have diarrhea. It can be chewed to relieve toothaches. Root bark is also used to stop bleeding. Root bark may be applied externally to wounds to promote healing.
Root bark has been used to treat fever, headaches, stomach problems, and skin diseases. Root bark extract is used to treat asthma. Root bark extracts are used to treat arthritis. Root bark extracts are used as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Root bark decoction is used to treat snakebites. Root bark infusion is used to treat coughs. Root bark sap is used to treat burns. Root bark resin is used to treat ringworm. Root bark oil is used to treat insect bites.
Dr. Vandana K.