Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Milkweed for dinner

Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. Pale pinky-burgundy flowers. NOT butterfly milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa, which is orange-flowered and poisonous to humans.

When I met Ellen Zachos for another DUMBO picnic last week I had no idea I'd go home with foraged vegetables for dinner. She had spotted the milkweed in bloom beside the East River, and had noticed that there were buds left on some of the stalks, and generously allowed me to take those home, so that I could have a new taste for dinner. She collected a few pods, also edible.

Resembling loose broccoli flowers, the buds were blanched in boiling water, and then tossed in olive oil and a little lemon with salt and pepper. They were delicious: broccolini crossed with beans crossed with asparagus.


  1. Very interesting post. Do you have any experience using common milkweed in landscaping or garden design? The Westchester Native Plant Society was selling it at their plant sale this past spring, but I resisted it because I've read conflicting reports on its desirability and behavior in a 'domesticated' landscape. I see it in waste places though and always think it remarkably attractive and stalwart looking. I also hear that its flowers are very fragrant though I don't especially detect this.

  2. I had no idea that the buds are edible. I will have to try some!
    Klaus, In my experience, in the landscape, common milkweed grows VERY tall, which is fine, if you are looking for something very tall.

  3. Hi Klaus

    I like this milkweed in a garden, though it belongs better in wilder parts in full sun, where it can spread up (5') - and it is very fond of water, though tolerates dry ground. It'll grow with its feet in standing puddles or ditches. I found it to be very fragrant, and was surprised. To control spread, simply snip the green pods off before they turn to downy seeds. You can eat them, cooked. If gathering buds to eat leave some for flowers, obviously.

    The orange asclepias beloved of butterflies but poisonous to us, (As. tuberosa), is much shorter.

    Tzipporah - yes, and good one. I'm still here!

    Livia - nice blog name :-)Yes, dee-licious. Make sure only to eat this one. Not orange.

  4. marie, do butterflies like this common milkweed? i was saving the milkweed for them (and the very busy bees).

    i will certainly save them for me, now.


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