Other names: asclepias, butterfly weed, canada root, colic root, flux root, tuber root, white root, wind root

Scientific name: Asclespias tuberosa

Common names: Canada root, Flux root, Orange swallow-wort, Swallow wort, Tuber root

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names:

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    الصُقْلاب الدرني (as-suqlaab ad-durni)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Asclepiadaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Root


Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: Up to 3 feet

Actions:  Anti-spasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, pectoral, relaxant, tonic

Known Constituents:  Glycosides including asclepiadin and potentially cardio active glycosides

Constituents Explained:


Out of the fleshy, white root grows several stems which are round and hairy.  The leaves are lance shaped (picture.) The flowers are small and orange. The petals are flaring backwards? And have a hooded crown??? occur in dense terminal flat topped umbels

Traditional Use:

It gets its name for the treatment of pleurisy (inflammationof the pleura section of the lung).  

Used as an expectorant in respiratory conditions such as pneumonia or tuberculosis it is designed to be an anti inflammtory particulary in the chest area.  Has been used for all sorts of colds and fevers.1

Externally it has been used for bruises.  In large doses it seems to act as an emetic and purgative.  The leaves and the stems have been known to be poisonous to animals.

Clinical Studies:


Pleurisy Root

Herb Name: Pleurisy Root

Other names: 

Butterfly Weed, 

Wind root, 

Canada root, 


Orange swallow wort, 

Tuber root, 

White root, 

Flux root, 


Latin name: Asclepias tuberosa

Family: Asclepiadaceae

Common part used:  

Rhizome, Root

Pleurisy root is the most common of the species used for herbal use, and grows primarily in the eastern part of the US. It is an upright perennial, growing to three feet producing narrow, lance-shaped leaves and spikes of numerous five-petaled orange or yellow flowers. The pencil-thin roots are unearthed in the spring and may continue down for some distance into the soil or simply just peter out. Occasionally the roots form thick clusters of tubers. 

The common milkweed grows throughout the west. It is scattered and erratic; but, when found, often grows in large colonies from about eighteen inches to six feet in height, usually with a single stem. The leaves are broad, oval, and longish, growing up to eight or ten inches in length. The veining in the leaves is pronounced. The plant produces pinkish-white flowers in a large globular cluster. The individual flowers are quite delicate and very sweet. After flowering, the plant produces good-sized pods, three to five inches in length, which are filled with downy seeds. 

Medicinal Uses:

Root: The Asclepias species consists of three traditionally used in herbal medicine: the common milkweed, immortal, and pleurisy root. While each is specific, they also have certain similarities in their effects on the body. 

Its specific use is for relieving the pain and inflammation of pleurisy, but it also is a good remedy for any hot, dry, and tight chest conditions. Pleurisy is an inflammation and painful drying of the sack that contains the lungs. Pleurisy root promotes coughing and the expelling of phlegm, while reducing fevers by stimulating perspiration. It regulates breathing and retards further inflammation of the pleura. The herb contains anodyne substances which will also ease the pain to a certain extent. However, too much can cause nausea and, eventually, vomiting. The narrow-leaved milkweeds possess larger quantities of the constituents that cause nausea and vomiting so should be used more cautiously. 

It can also be used to correct dysentery and chronic diarrhea. 

Swamp milkweed is used mainly for digestive disorders, but has the same cardiac glycosides as pleurisy root. 

The common milkweed is a highly useful plant.