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FutureStarrCommon Milkweed Plant
More than 450 insects species feed on A. syriaca, including flies, beetles, ants, bees, wasps, and butterflies; it is an important food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars (Danaus plexippus); other species that feed on the plant include red milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus), the milkweed tussock caterpillar (Euchaetes egle) and Oncopeltus fasciatus and Lygaeus kalmii.Subsequently, this has played a significant part in the population decline of the monarch butterfly. In 2018 the CEO of the National Wildlife Federation stated that the population of the monarch butterfly is now down 90 percent in the last 20 years and cited the reduction in milkweed as a contributing factor.The milkweed plant is often seen in swamps and wet fields, but it is not unusual in pastures and gardens as well. It has long leaves and produces a number of yellow flowers during the summer.
Euell Gibbons, the author of Stalking the Wild Asparagus (1962), wrote that milkweed is bitter and toxic. However, he may have inadvertently prepared common dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum), a poisonous somewhat similar-looking plant instead. Gibbons devised a method to remove the bitterness and toxicity by plunging the young shoots into boiling water and cooking for one minute, repeating the procedure at least three times to make the plant safe to eat. Some modern foragers consider the bitterness and toxicity issue a myth. The plants have no bitterness when tasted raw, and can be cooked like asparagus, with no special processing.and fiber (from seeds' "floss") production from the plant industrially. The fluffy seed hairs have been used as the traditional background for mounted butterflies and other insects. The compressed floss has a silk-like sheen.
Department of Agriculture studies in the 1890s and 1940s found that common milkweed has more potential for commercial processing than any other indigenous bast fiber plant, with estimated yields as high as hemp and quality as good as flax. Both the bast fiber and the floss were used historically by Native Americans for cordage and textiles. Milkweed has also been cultivated commercially to be used as insulation in winter coats.Landis, Thomas D.; Dumroese, R. Kasten (2015). "Propagating Native Milkweeds for Restoring Monarch Butterfly Habitat" (PDF). International Plant Propagators' Society, Combined Proceedings (2014). 64: 299–307. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 8, 2021. Retrieved July 11, 2021 – via United States Department of Agriculture: United States Forest Service. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)