Asclepius Syriaca

This page has been created as a companion to the text and online publication:


Doonan, Natalie. “Spreading the Word and Sharing the Seed: Collaborating with Milkweed,” Food and Activism in Contemporary Public Art, a special issue of Public Art Dialogue, edited by Cameron Cartière and Jennifer Wingate. Vol.8. Taylor & Francis Online. 2018. (forthcoming).

More information and photos to follow soon...

Collaborating with Milkweed

Note: Wear gloves to harvest milkweed and avoid touching your face, as the latex is very sticky and some people are allergic. Wash your hands when you finish.

Collecting seeds: A rule of thumb is to never forage more than 5% of what you find. In late August-September, milkweed pods will start to split open and dark brown seeds will begin to emerge. Don’t collect the seeds before this happens.

Storage and Planting: These seeds need to undergo a cold stratification process in order to germinate. You can do this either by storing them in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator over the winter, or you can plant them in the fall, just before the first frost.

Harvesting: You can find milkweed in upland prairies, fields, meadows, and so-called waste places. It prefers full sun. Leaves are harvested in early spring when they first open. Young shoots no more than 6” long in early spring can be prepared and eaten like asparagus. Collect flower buds and flowers during the summer, and pods when they are no more than 1.5” long.  Young shoots, leaves and pods should be boiled in several changes of water. Remember not to take too much! Monarchs are endangered and need this plant to survive. 

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