Milkweed is a familiar friend of the summer months. Tall, stately, and robust —milkweed stands out even amongst a field decorated with hawkweeds, asters, and grasses.
Here in Pennsylvania, there are at least 11 different species of milkweed, though it may not surprise you to learn that perhaps our most common species is Asclepias syriaca — common milkweed.
Common milkweed is a choice wild vegetable that supplies many edible parts throughout its long growing season. However, care must be taken so as not to confuse milkweed with dogbane (Apocynum sp). Dogbane and milkweed are placed within the same family of plants (the dogbane family — Apocynaceae), and both plants share similar features. Dogbane is toxic, however, while common milkweed is edible.
In this video, I help you discern between common milkweed and dogbane. I also discuss which parts of milkweed are edible and how to process them for consumption. Additionally, I discuss the importance of sustainable foraging from a conservation standpoint so as not to exacerbate the issue of milkweed habitat loss.