Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) is one of the most valuable wild plants for those following a rewilding path. It offers food, medicine, and relatively strong fibers for those that know how to identify and process this plant. One of its indigenous names is wiphunakson (pronounced weep-hoo-NAHK-sun), which means “feather-shoe” in Passamaquoddy, a very fitting name for this species’ fruit.
Asclepias syriaca is such a valuable wild food because it is available (in some form) for a large portion of the growing season. The spring shoots emerge in mid-May, and from then until at least mid-August (in my part of the world; western Maine) new foods continue to be produced by this plant, including tender leaves, flower buds, open flowers, immature fruits, and immature seeds. This time of year (Apsqewi-kisuhs, around August on the Gregorian Calendar), it is the fruits and immature seeds within those fruits that we consume as a food.