Milkweeds are common plants with an uncommon history. More than 20 species of milkweed are found in Florida where they are perhaps now best known as the food plant for Monarch Butterflies. But they have been and are much more.
Their sap contains latex and they were once planted as a crop to be harvested to produce rubber when war threatened rubber plantations in the tropics. The silk like fibers that carry their seeds were once used as a substitute for kapok to fill life jackets. Milkweeds contain toxins that can negatively affect the heart, but if cooked properly are an excellent wild food for humans. Cultures around the world have used them for their medicinal value. And of course, we prize them for their beauty in our gardens and in the wild.