Swamp Milkweed

Swamp MilkweedThis family of plants (Asclepiadaceae), commonly known as the Milkweed Family consists of 347 genera and 2,850 species.  The family was named in honor of Asklepios, the Greek god of Medicine. Swamp Milkweed appears in the 1998 edition of the Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines. The pharmacologically active compounds are cardioactive steroids. The drug has an emetic effect is used mainly for digestive disorders. At high doses, digitalis-like poisonings are possible due to the cardioactive steroid content. The Pueblo Indians call it noche, and separated the fibers of ripe leaves to make fishing-lines and fine sewing-thread.  Other tribes made lariats of the bark. Native Americans used the root infusion (medicine prepared by steeping flowers or leaves in a liquid, without boiling) in a bath for children and adults.  It was taken as an anthelmintic (agent destructive to worms) for tapeworms and as a diuretic,  carminative (relieve flatulence), cathartic (cause evacuation of bowels) and emetic.  The root tea of a related species of  Asclepias was used to heal the newborn’s navel and cord from the stems was used to extract teeth.


Swamp Silkweed, Rose-colored Silkweed


Asclepias incarnata


Freshwater Wetlands






2 to 6 feet


August to October


Nova Scotia to Florida and some western states ~ Statewide in NJ outside Pine Barrens


Early July to mid-August


Flowers reddish purple located on terminal umbels in clusters of 2 to 6 ~ Umbles consist of 10 to 20 florets ~ fruit pod is long ~ Leaves opposite, oblong, hairy ~ Rhizomous