Friday Favorites: Indigenous People and their Plants

November is Native American Heritage Month, the perfect time to highlight the ways indigenous people used native plant species in New Jersey.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Today we know that this native plant species is critical to the survival of Monarch Butterfly larvae. When they eat from this plant, a chemical enters their body which makes them distasteful to predators.

For indigenous people, the fibers of the milkweed plant were a source for weavings and making rope. The Butterfly Milkweed was also used by Native Americans to treat rashes and swelling.

Watch a performance of the Butterfly Dance by the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape:

Read a creation myth about the butterfly:

Track the 2020 fall migration of the Monarchs, from August through November, here:


Four bumpy green milkweed pods on a plant.

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