It was the Native Americans who taught the first European settlers the benefits of the silk of America. Here are some of the application they leared.
- milky white sap applied topically to treat warts
- Chewing the roots to help treat dysentery
- Root infusions suppressed cough and treated typhoid fever and asthma
- Small shoots were eaten like asparagus
- Young pods properly soaked to remove the latex make delicious Hors-d’oeuves.
- Silk was used, among other things to increase babies’comfort.
- The stem fiber were used to make ropes
The French, dazzled by so many benefits from a single plant, brought seeds to grow American silk in France. Much knowledge about this culture have been collected in several agriculture books in the 18th century.
On the illustration below on the left we can see the representation of a milkweed which was an insert of a map of New France, 1613 edition, drawn by David Pelletier from a Samuel de Champlain’s sketch showing milkweed between two Native Americans.
The illustration on the right shows a milkweed engraved by Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix from sketches of Cornuty. The name give at the time was « Petit Apocynum Canada ».