I first learned about this amazing plant from the magazine "Native Nature". It immediately sunk into my soul. And how to forget a tall (about two meters) giant with leaves, like those of a ficus, and hanging perfect purple-red balls (from 3 to 18 pieces on a bush), consisting of many pleasantly smelling flowers. This miracle of nature is called Syrian cotton wool(Asclepias syriaca). You can write a separate story about how I was looking for him to plant in my place, but now it is not about that.
The name itself gave me an idea: where are we, and where is Syria? Will it grow with us? It turned out that this plant has nothing to do with Syria. Everything was confused by the botanists of the past centuries. Originally from North America, where it is widespread, it is considered a malicious weed in the southern states. Although our climate is more severe, it is growing here, and how! And our frosts down to -32 ° C are nothing to him. True, it gives seeds only sometimes. These are brown round achenes with a long fluffy tail, only blow - and they will fly.
Initially, cotton wool was used as a technical culture. From the coarse fibers of the stem, ropes were made, from seeds - cotton wool (hence the cotton wool), and also a cloth very similar to silk and having a water-repellent ability.
The stems contain milky juice with a small amount of rubber, so the flea-tree is practically not damaged by various bugs and fleas. This plant also has other popular names - gusset (given for the similarity of a cracked fruit with a swallow's tail), as well as aesculapian herb (this is already a hint of its healing properties). The Latin name for vatnik is asklepias. According to Greek mythology, Asclepius was the name of the god of healing. A decoction from the roots of this plant is a powerful emetic and laxative. They are treated with abscesses. In folk medicine, the broth is used as an antidote for rabies, for tumors and dropsy. According to legend, Aesculapius treated people with this plant. However, you need to know that the milky juice of the milkweed contains asclepidian glycoside, which is very poisonous for warm-blooded animals and humans, and can cause fatal poisoning. Therefore, following the recipes of traditional medicine, you need to be careful.
Nowadays, Syrian cotton wool is used more as an ornamental plant. It is very beautiful, especially during flowering. The plant has a tall, firm, dense, pubescent stem with large, oblong, elliptical, opposite leaves. It blooms in the second half of summer for a month, and later in shady places, but longer. Vatochnik is completely unpretentious and drought-resistant, but, like most plants, it prefers fertile soil, especially loves places where nettle grew, sufficient moisture and sun. In these conditions, he appears in all its glory. It is better to use it in single plantings, like a specimen plant, so it looks better. You can plant it in the background of a flower garden, near a gazebo, a bench for relaxation. Just do not add other plants to it - it is aggressive. In addition, it grows a lot. Its thick (up to 1 cm) creeping roots with numerous buds are removed every year from the mother plant at a distance of up to one meter. When planted alone, it is easier to regulate the number of stems.
Seed reproduction of cotton wool is difficult due to rare cases of seed ovary, and it takes 2-3 years to wait for the flowering of seedlings. For 8 years, the seeds on my plants set once, only 4 fruits ripened. Therefore, it is easier to take pieces of rhizomes (10-15 cm with buds) at the end of April - May, before the first shoots appear.
This plant can be propagated by green cuttings. Young shoots 10–15 cm high are cut or broken off. In this case, it is not necessary to allow the frozen milky juice to form a film. Immediately remove part of the leaves, leaving only the upper ones, and plant them in wet sand. The cuttings take root in 2–3 weeks.
This plant is very aromatic and during the flowering period is an excellent honey plant.Moreover, honey is considered healing.
Syrian cotton wool is not the only representative of its kind. Is there some more california cotton wool(Asclepias californica) and meat-red cotton wool, or incarnate(Asclepias incarnata), which blooms with similar flowers, collected in shields, and does not "creep" anywhere. Another view - Kurassavsky cotton wool (Asclepias curassavica) - grown as an annual (it is bred abroad for cutting) or a houseplant. In our conditions, only Syrian and meat-red cotton wool grows without problems.