From shoot, to bud, to flower, to seed, milkweed is a lovely plant that is useful in each stage of its life and will be found in your CSA member box this week!
Its claim to fame is its connection to the monarch butterfly (monarchs will only lay their eggs on plants in the milkweed family), but it has also been used as a food, a fiber and a medicine. The shoots, which are similar to asparagus, are tender and edible, and the buds (found in your box this week!) are a fine addition to any stir-fry, pasta or casarole. The dried stalks of the milkweed plant, when cracked open, reveal fibers that can be twisted together to make a strong hemp-like rope. Although it is not commonly used medicinally anymore, the Cherokee Indians used its sap to remove warts, ringworms and treat beestings. When mixed with other herbs, it was also used to help postpartum milk flow and sometimes even as a natural contraceptive! Milkweed wore many hats in native communities.