Apocynaceae: an upright perennial, 100-150cm tall plant, growing from thick, fleshy, white roots. Found in swamps, wet thickets and shores. Small, fragrant, pink to mauve (sometimes white) coloured flowers in rounded umbels. Blooming from July-August. After blooming, green seed pods, approximately 12cm long, are produced that when ripe, split open. They then release light to dark brown, flat seeds that are attached to silver-white silky-hairs ideal for catching the wind. This natural mechanism for seed dispersal is like that used by other milkweed plants. Native to North America - Quebec to Manitoba and Wyoming, south to Texas and New Mexico.
The unopened flower buds can be cooked, they have a taste somewhat like peas. They can also be dried and stored for later use. The young shoots can be cooked as an asparagus substitute. A tea made from the roots has anthelmintic, carminative, diuretic, emetic, strongly laxative and stomachic properties. The tea is said to remove tapeworms from the body in one hour. It has also been used in the treatment of asthma, rheumatism, syphilis, worms and as a heart tonic.
Surface seeds in the autumn or in late winter. Good results from sowing the seed in the greenhouse in early spring. Seed does best with 2-3 weeks of cold stratification. Germination usually takes place in 1 - 3 months at 18°C. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Requires a moist soil and a sunny position, and hardy to at least -25°C. Many members of this genus seem to be particularly prone to damage by slugs.
The flowers are very attractive to butterflies.
APPROX. 50 SEEDS
THE BORING STUFF:
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