Survival of the Fittest; Inside a Milkweed Pod.   6 comments

Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, produces its seeds in formidable follicles, better known as, pods.

Milkweed is named for its milky sap, which contains alkaloids and latex. Many alkaloids are known to be toxic; and care should be exercised with Milkweed.  The latex is very sticky, be careful not to get it on your fingers.  Otherwise, it will end up on your camera, clothing, nose, etc!

The outer and inner rinds protect the ripening seeds.

The “spine” of the pod is a gilled, leaf-like structure; which keeps the seeds arranged in overlapping rows, until the pods ripen, dry, and split open.

The seeds have white filament-like hairs known as pappus, silk, or floss. The seeds, are carried into the wind, by the floss.

The floss has been used historically for cordage, textiles and is the traditional background for mounted butterflies.  Which, I suppose is appropriate; as Milkweed is a favorite food source of butterflies.  If you love butterflies, plant some Milkweed.  It could be your contribution to saving the dwindling Monarchs.

Milkweed pods can be eaten when they are about 1 inch long and still firm. It’s best to cook the pods in several, rapid changes of boiling water, before adding them to soup, stew or eating them as a side dish.  Unused pods keep well in the freezer.  I like to blanch them first in 3 changes, 1 1/2 minutes each, of, already, boiling water.  Then when I want to use them, the pre-cooking is done.  This is important as the bitter alkaloids are boiled off into the water. 

When cooking a large batch of Milkweed pods I put 3 pots (of approx equal size) of water on the stove to boil.  When all pots have achieved a rolling boil, I carefully lower the pods into the first pot.  When 1 1/2 minutes is up, I drain the pods and carefully place them into the 2nd pot.  After another minute and a half, the pods are, again drained and then go into the 3rd pot.  One more minute and a half, and I drain them, again.  Now my pods are ready to be cooked for eating; or cooled and packed for the freezer.

J Omega T (find him in my blogroll) suggests an easier method, which is great for small batches of pods.  Bring 1 large pot of water to a boil.   Place the Milkweed pods in 1 small pot and use a ladle to cover the pods with boiling water, from the big pot.  After 1 1/2 minute, drain and repeat, several times.  Thanx J! (1)

Crushed milkweed pods can be boiled until soft and then made into paper using the sheet-forming technique. Paper making is a messy, smelly, albeit ultimately satisfying, endeavor.  Although, I’ve not, yet, tried Milkweed paper making, it is very intriguing.  With the addition of rose petals, and/or dandelion petals and/or any flower petals, Milkweed pod paper could become a preoccupation!  Looking at the rinds and the floss leads me to believe it would be lovely, with a silky feel and sheen.

Milkweed pods can be used in gardening, since they kill nematodes. Nematodes are round worms that kill by spreading plant viruses. Crushed milkweed pods, spread over the soil will keep away nematodes. (2)

Milkweed pods can be painted and used as decorations. During the Victorian Era, milkweed pods were hung from Christmas trees and wreaths.  I don’t do Christmas; however, it’s easy to imagine several crafty pod projects.  Just the shape suggests a paisley design; maybe stamp painted using a cross section of the pod!  Collected on the stalk (or in the viewfinder) Milkweed pods, also, make a great addition to dried flower arrangements.

Just click on any photo to enlarge for greater detail.

Thanx for stopping by.  See you soon.


(1) J Omega T:

(2) Read more: Uses for Milkweed Pods |

For more Milkweed information and photos, please see:


6 responses to “Survival of the Fittest; Inside a Milkweed Pod.

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Thanks for the nod. Another use for milkweed pods is a source of dry tinder for fire lighting even when it’s pouring rain. Unfortunately, they don’t remain in season for very long, so that tip has limited utility.

  2. I was looking for an idea to use the milkweed pods I saw a few minutes ago when on a walk with my dog – and was treated to the lovely photos of the milkweed’s life story, and some great ideas for eating them. All in one posting . Thanks.

  3. Pingback: Walking The Wareham « Forageporage's Blog

  4. Pingback: Pass the Milkweed, Please! « Forageporage's Blog

  5. Pingback: Springing Into Summer, Along the Wareham River. « Forageporage's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: