Lakota Name: Tiŋsila Pejủta (means prairie turnip medicine)
Listen to Lakota Plant Name: Tiŋsila Pejủta
Scientific Name: Asclepias stenophylla
Common Name: Narrowleaved milkweed
Medicinal uses: The root is given to children when they have no appetite. Tiŋsila means wild turnip, and Pejủta means medicine from grass roots.
The narrowleaved milkweed is a popular plant, but it is becoming endangered in certain parts of the country. In Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota the plant is endangered (USDA Plants Database).
Description: The plant is up to 80 cm high rising from a thick, woody, root. The narrowleaved milkweed is a perennial with a few erect and usually unbranched stems that are decumbent or upright. Foliage of the milkweed is moderately to sparsely hairy, and the sap is milky. The flowers are less than 0.5 inches long, have five oblong, pale green reflexed segments and five white hoods. The hoods have a 3-lobed tip. The middle lobe is triangular and shorter than the two lateral lobes. The fruits are in pods 4 to 5 inches long, erect on a downward-curved pedicel; many seeded.
Asclepias stenophylla. Courtesy of Kentucky Native Plant Society
Distribution: Asclepias stenophylla grows in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. The narrowleaved milkweed occurs sporadically throughout the black hills. Existing or potential threats are habitats being taken away from them, and people picking them by mistake (USDA Plants Database).