Pleurisy Root

Botanical Name: Asclepias tuberosa Family: Asclepiadaceae

Common name(s): Pleurisy Root, Butterfly Weed, Swallow Wort, Wind Root, Tuber Root


  • Perennial herb | Zones 3-9 | 2 – 3 feet | Numerous, bright orange-yellow color in June and August, followed by pods
  • Dry, gravelly / sandy soil | Sun
  • Propagate from seeds. Can take a few years to mature. Does not transplant easily. Will self-seed once established.


  • Dig the root in spring or fall.
  • Can be dried in the sun.


Infusion: Add 1 teaspoon of powdered root to 1 cup boiling water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Drink a cupful every hour to help promote perspiration and suppress expectoration.

Tincture: 5-40  drops every 3 hours as required.

Some sources suggest taking each of these preparations 3x /day. Since there are cautions about taking too much of it, this seems like a wiser dosage.


Constituents: Ascepin

Actions: carminative, cardiac tonic, diuretic, diaphoretic, expectorant

Uses: Pleurisy, lung and bronchial congestion, colds and flus

Combinations: combine equal parts pleurisy, elecampane, mullein, and yerba santa for bronchioles and lung issues.

Cautions: potentially toxic in large quantities


  • Bitter, acrid, cool


I’m going to call this Butterfly Weed going forward because it’s a happier name than Pleurisy Root.  Monarch butterfly larvae feed on its leaves and all kinds of butterflies are attracted to its flowers. I read in Newcombs Wildflower book that Butterfly Weed is a member of the Milkweed family. Can’t wait to go looking for some next year!