There are eighteen milkweed species (Asclepias) that are native to the state of Iowa. Only five of them, however, are widespread in the state: butterfly milkweed, common milkweed, sand milkweed, swamp milkweed, and whorled milkweed. The genus was formally described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, who named it after Asclepius, the Greek god of healing.
Milkweeds have a long history of medicinal, every day, and military use. The Omaha people from Nebraska, the Menomin from Wisconsin and upper Michigan, the Dakota from Minnesota, and the Ponca people from Nebraska, traditionally used common milkweed for medicinal purposes.
Milkweed is an important pollinator; it is essential to monarch butterflies, in particular. Milkweeds are the required host plants for caterpillars of the monarch butterfly and thus play a critical role in the monarch’s life cycle.
Here are some informative links about milkweed, milkweed and monarchs, milkweed bugs, and other milkweed-related topics: