Asclepias incarnata (Linnaeus)
Wahíŋheya íphiye (Lakȟóta)
“The Lakota people would rub the root on sores caused by a rare form of tuberculosis called scrofula. The medicine man would sometimes use swamp milkweed in his recipes to purify the sick. The Sioux would gather the flowers in the morning, while they were covered in dew, and then squeeze out and boil the juice from the flowers to make a brown sugar. The Dakota would cook the flowers and fruits of the milkweed like any other vegetable. The plant is referenced in an Ojibwa myth known as the Ladder in the Sky.” (Ethnobiology: Indigenous Knowledge. Rdway Field Station) “An infusion of the roots [of this plant] is used to treat asthma, rheumatism, syphilis, and a weak heart” (L. Black Elk, “Culturally Important Plants of the Lakota”). Apparently, syphilis was not one of the diseases that the “white man” brought with colonialism, given the “very popular hypothesis” the “Columbus fleet [. . .] brought the affliction on their return form [sic] the New World in 1493” (Tampu et al., “Brief History of Syphilis,” in Journal of Medicine and Life).