Portfolio: Medicinal Plants of the Sicangu Lakota
Asclepias incarnata a.k.a. swamp milkweed
Asclepias incarnata flower © 2008 1sagebrush4
Lakota name: Wahiŋheya ipi’e, which means “used to doctor gopher”. The other Lakota name for it is wahca'hca hu (“stem”) bloka, which means “male flower stem”.
Listen to Lakota Plant Names: wahiŋheya ipi’e, wahca'hca hu bloka
Scientific name: Asclepias incarnata
Common name: Swamp milkweed
Chemical activity: The juice of this wetland milkweed is less milky than that of other species. The genus was named in honor of Aesculapius, Greek god of medicine, undoubtedly because some species have long been used to treat a variety of ailments. The Latin species name means "flesh-colored." The threats that this flower gives is that it is slightly toxic. Animals in some areas have been dropping in population because they are eating this plant. Some of the animals include some local animals like squirrels and chipmunks. The plant has medical uses also. More specifically, the medicine relates to appetite-suppressing compositions comprising an extract product of an Asclepias plant. It would be used today to help lose weight like much of the other appetite-suppressing plants like Paullinia sorbilis from Brazil.
Secondary compound: The main ingredient in this plant is known as P57, it seems to send a signal to the hypothalamus of the brain that tells the body it is no longer hungry. This is still used today for a weight loss supplement.
Description: The flowering of it is in the months June through October. This is the only wetland milkweed with lanceolate opposite leaves, pink or pinkish red hour-glass-shaped flowers, and milky sap. It serves as host plant for caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly. They probably could accelerate the advance of these desirable plants by sowing their seeds. Like all its relatives, swamp milkweed has a distinctive flower that is shaped rather like an hourglass–wide at the top and base, but constricted in the middle. The "base" is formed by five pigmented sepals that fold away from the rest of the flower, which includes five united petals. Each petal forms a "hood" over a stamen, or "horn" and the relative configurations of these two structures are useful in identifying various milkweed species. In the case of swamp milkweed, the horn is longer than its hood and curves away from it toward the flower center.
Within each milkweed flower there are two ovaries, which is why the plant's awl-shaped seed pods occur in pairs. These pods turn brown and brittle with age and burst open to reveal many silky-haired seeds. The seeds are dispersed primarily by wind but also float on ponds and streams. The milkweed gets its name from its white sap. Swamp milkweed is far less sappy than many of its relatives. Milkweed sap is a viscous fluid that flows through the plant's vascular system and oozes out when a stem or flower is damaged. Some animals won't browse on milkweed foliage because of the bitter sap, which contains glycosides that are at least mildly toxic. However, Monarch caterpillars in particular thrive on milkweed and concentrate those glycosides in their own bodies–which in turn make them unpalatable to potential predators.
Distribution: You can find it in all states except for California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Mississippi, and Hawaii. In South Dakota it can be found in 30 counties. In Canada it is found in 3 regions.
The federal status of this plant is threatened and endangered.
Information on the Internet
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State Education Standards
- South Dakota Education Standards
- 9-12.L.1.1. Students are able to relate cellular functions and processes to specialized structures within cells.
- 9-12.L.1.2. Students are able to classify organisms using characteristics and evolutionary relationships of major taxa.
- 9-12.S.1.1. Students are able to explain ethical roles and responsibilities of scientists and scientific research.
- 9-12.S.1.2. Students are able to evaluate and describe the impact of scientific discoveries on historical events and social, economic, and ethical issues.
- 9-12.N.1.1. Students are able to evaluate a scientific discovery to determine and describe how societal, cultural, and personal beliefs influence scientific investigations and interpretations.
- 9-12.N.2.1. Students are able to apply science process skills to design and conduct student investigations. (Synthesis)
- 9-12.N.2.2. Students are able to practice safe and effective laboratory techniques.
National Education Standards
- National Education Standards
CONTENT STANDARD A: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop
- Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
- Understandings about scientific inquiry
CONTENT STANDARD B: As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop an understanding of
- Structure of atoms
- Structure and properties of matter
- Chemical reactions
- Motions and forces
- Conservation of energy and increase in disorder
- Interactions of energy and matter
CONTENT STANDARD C: As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of
- The cell
- Molecular basis of heredity
- Biological evolution
- Interdependence of organisms
- Matter, energy, and organization in living systems
- Behavior of organisms
CONTENT STANDARD E: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop
- Abilities of technological design
- Understandings about science and technology
CONTENT STANDARD F: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of
- Personal and community health
- Population growth
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- Natural and human-induced hazards
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CONTENT STANDARD G: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of
- Science as a human endeavor
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About This Page
Classroom Project: Medicinal Plants of the Lakota Sioux
Lead-Deadwood High School
Lead, South Dakota United States
License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to , Lead-Deadwood High School
Page copyright © 2008 1sagebrush4
Treehouses are authored by students, teachers, science enthusiasts, or professional scientists. Anyone can sign up as a treehouse contributor and share their knowledge and enthusiasm about organisms. Treehouse contributions are checked for general accuracy and quality by teachers and ToL editors, but they are not usually reviewed by expert scientists. If you spot an error, please get in touch with the author or the teacher. For more information about quality control of Tree of Life content, see Status of Tree of Life Pages.
About This Portfolio
I would like to acknowledge the following individuals for their help with this project:
- Rev. Raymond Bucko S.J., Creighton University Department of Sociology and Anthropology
- My student mentor Devan, Kim Loeffen, Tony Beisiot, Wade Mackey, and Sharon Burns for their technical help.
- F.J. Doody, Buechel Memorial Museum, St. Francis, S.D.
- Ben Black Bear Jr. for his audio of Lakota names, St. Francis, S.D. (Author of the Introduction of Dilwyn Rogers' Book of Father Buechel's research.)
- Katja Schulz Managing Editor ToL
- And mostly, my students for their perserverence!
Lead-Deadwood High School
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Robin Cochran-Dirksen at
Page copyright © 2008 Robin Cochran-Dirksen