I've been meaning to do this story for some time, as it actually has quite the history here in Fallon, Nevada.
|Milkweed, October 2015|
It grows a seed pod that produces a hypoallergenic fiber fill that can be used in making pillows and stuffing quilts. The fiber is easily collected just before the pods open while the pods are still green. Pods are cracked and the seeds are raked off. You are then left with milkweed down that when allowed to dry makes an excellent fiber fill. There have also been a number of people who have experimented with combining it with other textile such as cotton or wool and then spinning that cotton or wool into yarn. (Sorry but I do not know the ratio used of cotton or wool to milkweed silk ) Unfortunately milkweed down by itself is too brittle for spinning but as I said before it has many unique and useful properties. Native Americans were also known to use the rubbery sap as a chewing gum by rubbing the sap between their fingers to make a rubber ball to chew on. Although I would not recommend it as it tastes awful and may be toxic, the white milky sap is similar to liquid latex. Fibers from the stem would also be used to weave into fishing line or cordage which was then used for making other things.
|Drought and late in season, liberty pond|
|Silky and soft to the touch|
|The green milkweed pods in the background of this photo are what you're looking to harvest just before they open|
|Note green milkweed pods in background|
|milkweed at liberty pond|
These beetles also make milkweed their home.
The fire and gem beetles are harmless and may be a good indicator that the plant has not been sprayed with herbicide or pesticide.