This common plant can be used as food, medicine and a survival tool
Aside from the many easy-to-grow plants that can be used for food and medicine during a prolonged survival scenario, there are also many wild plants that can be used for similar purposes.
In particular, Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.) — a plant which grows wild throughout much of the United States and Canada — is especially beneficial as it has great value when preparing for the unforeseeable. It’s used for food, medicine and even for making candle wicks.
Milkweed is typically found on roadsides and in fields, and often grows as tall as six feet. Recognizing the plant is fairly easy as it has broad leaves, green pods and pink or purple flowers. The plant generally blooms from early summer to early fall.
Before getting into the many benefits of milkweed, the first thing you should know milkweed is the fact that the milky sap can cause irritation of the eyes, so care must be taken not to rub your eyes when handling the plant. Milkweed sap, if it gets on the skin, can also cause an allergic skin reaction in some people.
Milkweed as food
The seeds, seed pods, leaves, flowers and oil from the milkweed plant are all edible and can be eaten in many ways.
For a flavor that is similar to brown sugar, boil the pods down and consume. If peas is more pleasing to you, then cook the unopened flower buds and eat. Craving asparagus? Consider eating the young shoots of milkweed as they have a similar flavor.
Its pods can also be used to enhance flavoring or act as a soup thickener.
Oil can even be pressed out of its seeds and the latex in its stems has been found to be a good substitute for chicle; it can even be made into chewing gum.
Milkweed as medicine
Milkweed also extends a multitude of health benefits, taking on several medicinal properties.
Its root, for example, is also considered to act as everything from a diuretic to an expectorant.
Furthermore, milkweed’s leaves can be infused to make a tea useful for treating coughs, fever and asthma. The infusion can also be used to help in passing kidney stones.
Additional uses for this popular plant
Milkweed has several practical uses aside from its nutritional and medicinal properties.
The inner bark of the stems can be dried and used to make twine, paper and cloth while milkweed oils can be used to make liquid soap.
The seed floss obtained from the pods can also be used for making candle wicks, stuffing pillows and in making cloth when mixed with other fibers. For instance, milkweed floss is amazingly buoyant — six times more than cork — and is sometimes used to make life jackets for that reason.
Milkweed is just one of many wild plants that can be used for a variety of purposes. A knowledge of wild plants and their uses can prove to be crucial to survival when the SHTF.