Kë Pkëbthegémen group harvests and prepares milkweed

The first outing of the Kë Pkëbthegémen “Lets Pick Things” series focused on identifying, harvesting, and cooking nenwesh (milkweed). The class started off the season with 12 participants heading to our Gage Street property where they saw an abundance of milkweed growing. That first week, the florets on the milkweed had not popped, so Madalene Big Bear taught everyone how to harvest the top leaves of the plant to use in a soup.

The second walk of the season was spent harvesting the milkweed florets around the Language and Culture buildings. Following both of the walks, the group returned to Language and Culture to prepare the florets by frying them with butter.

The group carefully only harvested enough for themselves to sample. Monarch caterpillars feed on the leaves of the milkweed, and it is the only host plant for that butterfly species. Since milkweed is critical for the survival of the monarch butterflies, the class was instructed to be sure to always leave plenty of the plant behind for the monarchs’ benefit.

The harvesters also learned that the white sticky sap that is released from the broken stem of the plant is a natural remedy for the removal of plantars warts.

All participants were strongly encouraged to visit DNR to obtain their own harvesting and gathering permits so that they may harvest for personal use. Please see the tribe’s website for the current Harvesting and Gathering Rules and Regulations or contact the Pokagon DNR office.

Please join us for the final walk on August 25 at noon at Language and Culture.