Milkweed is a plant originating from North America.
There are different varieties and they’re not just beautiful, but also supportive of pollinators necessary for a healthy chain of food that we depend on.
This plant is a lifeline for monarch butterflies. This iconic insect from North America is in a lot of trouble due to the overuse of pesticides in the US, as well as the loss of habitat and climate change.
Though some consider milkweed to be nothing more than a weed, the truth is different. It actually has plenty of ecological benefits for humans when compared to some other non-native species of plants.
Growing it in the yard and promoting it in communities is pivotal.
There are more than 100 milkweed species growing in North America. This is a flowering perennial which produces a milky substance containing cardiac glycosides.
Native Americans used it for the treatment of health problems like warts, asthma, and coughs.
Common milkweed is known to be the food for 400 insects so if you see it on your property, leave it there. It nourishes caterpillars, butterflies, beetles, bees, etc.
What Are the Benefits of Milkweed?
If you don’t have it in your garden, make sure you plant it. It has lovely and complex flowers, but its benefits go beyond the physical appearance.
Here are some of the best ones:
- Helps clear out contaminants
The silk in milkweed pods is used to absorb toxins during oil spills.
These fibers absorb more than four times the amount that plastic-based materials used are able to.
One company from Canada, Encore3, made kits based on milkweed fiber capable of absorbing 53 gallons of oil at 0.06 gallons per minute.
- Great for pest management
Milkweed, according to a study done at Washington State University, is a simple and inexpensive way to offer support for pollinators and maintain pests under control and attract beneficial insects in gardens that suppress common pests.
- Contributes to biodiversity
Milkweed helps build stronger biodiversity and contributes to a better relationship between butterflies, monarchs, and caterpillars.