Common Milkweed Oil

Have reposted this video, as it shows common milkweed (Ascelpias syriaca) in bloom in the Minot, ND area last summer. I was visiting my family there, and it’s good to go back to those family memories (my mom is walking in the background during the milkweed part). Click here to see the post that went with the video.

Milkweed has long been a favorite plant. I’ve always dreamed of getting a milkweed-stuffed down comforter from the Ogallala Comfort Company. Their Hypodown® 20:80 mix of A. syriaca and goose down is guaranteed to be reaction free for TEN years and has an even longer overall guarantee. Herb Knudsen started the Natural Fibers Corporation in 1986, of which Ogalla Down is a division. They have now started a new division called Ogallala Escapes, which offers beauty products made with the pressed oil of A. syriaca seeds.

I’ve never bought many beauty products in my life, preferring to make my own, but Ogallala Escapes sent me a beautiful spa package containing many of their products with syriaca oil. These are the most divine skin products i’ve used…and it’s soooo cool to be using this plant externally on my body. Another way I use the plant externally is for its milky/latexy sap, which is great for removing moles/warts/age spots, after some time of applying it daily.

Ascelpias is the Greek God of Healing, syriaca means “of syria”. This is interesting since the plant is native here in North America. My father lived in Syria for a few years and I was able to travel around that country with him. Sitting at the end of the Silk Road I somehow think our common milkweed may someday be recognized for its riches. The syriaca oil is full of rich moisturizers, Vitamin E, and unique fatty acids. One of those beneficial and interesting fatty acids is cis-vaccenic, which is found in young skin but diminishes as we age.

Mae West’s Two Bags Save One Life! life vests during WWII were filled with milkweed floss. The USDA gave onion sacks to millions of American schoolkids, encouraging them to help the war efforts by gathering the floss, which ended up filling over one million Mae West life vests. Native Americans didn’t employ their children to gather milkweed floss for war, but rather widely used it to swaddle their young. It’s been used by the French since the 1600’s.

This perennial plant, widely distributed around the US, has a beautiful wild spirit. I love the Mae West connection, as she and I share a birthday and she’s the only star I’ve gone to see on the Hollywood Walk of Fame while living in the LA-area. It’s all about a girl who lost her reputation and never gave a damn! -Mae West

10 comments

  1. Bard of Ely says:

    Just discovered your wonderful site from a link my friend Grog Eater of Weeds left at Myspace and just wanted to add that all species of milkweed are the food plants of the beautiful Monarch butterfly caterpillars. I have an article on them on my Hub page on the link I have left. There are so many reasons people should grow milkweeds!

  2. sunny says:

    yey
    thanks Bard of Ely!
    i’ve had dreams of running through fields of milkweed…surrealistic like strawberry fields forever….‘milkweed fields forever’!!! 🙂

  3. elarael says:

    I also just discovered your site and am really looking forward to going through the archives.

    Here in Hawaii, the Monarchs do indeed choose the local milkweed plant, called the crown flower, as their prefered site. These milkweeds are considered totally poisonous, but the flowers are one of the top choices for lei’s.

    Here’s a good photo:
    http://www.hilozoo.com/plants/PS_crown.htm

  4. Excellent article you have shared with all. The question I have, you’ve answered, about the oil extracted from the seeds through the cold press method, but to elaborate my question, would be, is there an essential oil in the flower of the asclepias syriaca species as I am pondering the idea of making a perfume from the flower? In which an essential oil extracted from the flower would hopfully have a high level of fregrance and by the way, this milkweed plant grows wild up here in Ottawa, Ontario Canada.
    I have been doing a research on perfume making, aromatherapy, and the extraction of essential oils, and it is soon time for this species to flower. I started researching last year when this flower was in full bloom, and I love the fragrance, I think this fragrance would make a valuable perfume. Information on this species of milkweed up here in Canada is rare and infrequent, therefore, why I am asking you about one of “God’s” gift.
    Thanks,
    Jesse Billyard

  5. Audy says:

    I want to make my own balm from milkweed! Any idea how to make the oil? I know the seeds are poisonous so not sure I want to use the seeds!

    • Edwin Delsing says:

      The “poison” you refer to are cardiac glycosides, mainly present in the plant’s “milk” (latex). It generally does not occur in concentrations that are dangerous for humans. The plant produces them only when attacked by bugs. Young Asclapias Syriaca plants are free of toxines. Cardiac glycosides don’t survive cooking. They are not soluble in oil, therefore the seed oil is absolutely not toxic.
      Making oil from Milkweed seed is not easy. You need a special press. Common domestic oil presses won’t work as the pressure is not enough high. Even with professional presses, yields are very low (5-8%). That is one of the reasons why the oil is so rare – and expensive!
      You may ask Ogallalla company if they can provide you with some oil.

      • Sunny Savage says:

        Aloha Edwin,

        I’d love to get more info on the cardiac glycosides not being present until being munched on by bugs. That would certainly change up the whole wild food world’s recommendations of boiling young shoots!

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