Asclepias asperula or Inmortal.
Asclepias was a greek physician who later became known as a god or the “father” of medicine and asperula means rough, so I like to think of this plant as a rough and tough healer.
Family: Milkweed, or Asclepiadaceae family of plants
Description: We have several species of Milkweeds in Central Texas. Milkweeds all tend to bleed white latex. Inmortal is a native clumping perennial wildflower. It can often be seen in open fields, dotting the field with white, roundish clusters of flowers. What makes this milkweed distinct is its white, brain like appearance the blooms make. Sometimes the blooms have been referred to as crowns, others as pentacles. There are so many interesting things to say about the flowers and the pollinators seem to just go crazy over them. I have seen 3-4 types of pollinators from bees to moths hovering all over the plants, which are also a source of food for monarch larvae. The leaves are linear and stems covered with little hairs, as they grow, the plants tend to sprawl outward rather than grow up.
Harvest: This plant is a drop dosage toxic medicinal, therefore not recommended for lay practitioner harvest. Traditionally the root was harvested for use, so it is best harvested from gardens rather than destroying native stands
Historical Use: some milkweed roots were used to treat respiratory infections and inmortal in particular was employed by tribes in the Southwest to help during labor and childbirthing
The idea behind this seems to come from the root acting as a sort of oxytocin synergist, assisting a woman’s body during childbirth and while breastfeeding. Oxytocin is a hormone related to the female reproductive system. Traditional use of the root was also employed by elders with enlarged, or congestive hearts. A small bit of the root was chewed.
Modern Use: Inmortal is a native medicinal plant of Texas and the Southwest. Due to its rather overt pharmacological action, it is not recommended for home use. One midwife I know used a bit of the root tincture during a stalled pregnancy. The result was strong and immediate that she was too shocked to use it again. Besides using the root in labor formulas, I have also used it with a client who had congestive heart disorders in combination with other herbs. To reiterate, this is a toxic drop dosage herb, or what I like to call BIG Medicine.
The pods of some milkweeds can be fermented and eaten like capers.
Inmortal is a native wildflower offering an abundance of food and medicine to both pollinators and people.