Edible Milkweed Pod? On My Fence

Strange how things work…

There’s this odd vine on one of my fences. It makes a light pod that feels almost hollow, but doesn’t sound fully hollow when you tap it. Any disturbance at the vine join point causes a lot of milky latex sap to come out. I’d figured, due to the latex, it was likely toxic. As I planned edible vines on that fence, I sprayed it with glyphosate last week (which kills off the roots, but isn’t a systemic “kill all the cells” poison – the tops die off due to lack of functioning roots). This means any seed pods are likely still viable.

2 Days ago I spent a while looking through “Florida Vines” and “Florida Toxic Vines” hoping to identify it, but didn’t get anywhere.

So this morning I’m on my first Cup Of Coffee, waiting for the brain to sputter to higher function… when I often watch pointless videos about things like making strange bread or cooking some strange food in another land… and here was a guy cooking and eating what sounded like my latex pod plant. BUT, the pod looked funny. Mine are more just roundish. Yet when I looked up the Latin name he gave, I found a page with pods that look just like mine.


Excerpts from Jim Conrad’s
Naturalist Newsletter

from the February 25, 2008 Newsletter written in the community of 28 de Junio, in the Central Valley 8 kms east of Pujiltic, Chiapas, MÉXICO
about 800 meters in elevation, ± LAT. 16° 18’N, LONG. -92° 28′

Edible Milkweed Pod, GONOLOBUS EDULIS Especially now during the dry season when many trees are leafless often you see asymmetrically ovate fruits the size of grapefruits dangling from slender, dried- up, leafless vine stems tangled in the outer branches of trees ten or fifteen feet off the ground. One is shown at the right. In a few weeks these pods will open and release into the wind dozens of flat, lentil-size seeds equipped with fuzzy, white parachutes.

* UPDATE: Later I find that this looks like GONOLOBUS EDULIS, native to Costa Rica, Panama and possibly Nicaragua. However, online I find herbarium specimens collected in other countries, including Mexico (Francisco de la Cruz #1105, Álamo Temapache, Veracruz). Maybe this edible species has been spread by cultivation? Taxonomy of Gonolobus is an awful mess.If you’re familiar with milkweed pods you can visualize the whole process because the pods I’m talking about are produced by members of the Milkweed Family. I call the vines Climbing Milkweeds for lack of a better name.*

His pods look like mine, not like the ones in the video. Is that an age of plant thing, or a local variation thing, or maybe a climate influence? Or even a slightly different variety? Are mine just not quite ripe yet? Don’t know.

I’m now likely to take one of those pods and cut it open, see if the insides match the outsides. But despite my interest in native wild edibles, I’m pretty sure this one will get a pass. Just not keen on things with latex in them, or where some varieties of a family are toxic but some bits might not kill you if done just right…

Climbing Milkweed Pod

Climbing Milkweed Pod

In this video, he shows preparation and describes flavor. (Spoiler Alert: There isn’t any flavor.)

The other vine on my fence makes little black berries that are supposedly also edible, at least to deer and such, but not enough to be of interest (especially as they, too, are semi-tasteless). I did find it in my search of Florida Vines.

So basically I’ve most likely got two wild weedy edible vines on my fence, neither one of which is of much culinary interest. So replacing them with something a bit more edible is fine with me. Even if I would have like to save some seeds from them prior to nuking them had I known their true utility. Or maybe not… I’d really rather have some sweet potato vines on the fence, or runner beans…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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16 Responses to Edible Milkweed Pod? On My Fence

  1. John Hultquist says:

    With a little bit of work try squash on your fence.
    An image search will be a start: “squash on a fence”

  2. beththeserf says:

    Milkweed, isn’t that the food of the Monarch Butterfly?

  3. John Hultquist says:

    Western showy milkweed is somewhat like a 5th cousin once removed to the climber vine. Way beyond my knowledge.
    I do have some showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) on my place but rarely see a Monarch. I see more of the common yellow Swallowtails.
    There are some other flowering milkweeds that are popular with gardeners, called "ornamental flowering milkweed". None are climbers. Do an image search.

  4. beththeserf says:

    Thx John Yes I will do a search.

  5. The True Nolan says:

    @E.M.: Don’t know if you are familiar with this foraging expert from Florida. He may have a YouTube channel as well:

  6. Ossqss says:

    All I will say is the growing season in Florida is very long. You will find there are many non-native plants here, for many reasons, that nobody knows crap about. I would focus on what we know is edible and forget the rest.

    Heck, I still have bad memories of cutting down Oleander. LOL

  7. Taz says:

    Walmart and other retailers struggling under shoplifting losses.

  8. The True Nolan says:

    @Taz: I spoke with a friend in Memphis, TN, this morning and he mentioned that the local Walmart may be closing due to theft. He had a second local story as well. His son had (note the past tense) a mobile auto locksmith business where he could go on location and make digital keys for stranded motorists. He had lots of specialized electronics and equipment in his truck. Yesterday, while doing a job, literally leaning against his truck, it began to roll away. He stepped up to the drivers side at which point a thief behind the wheel pointed a gun at him and told him to step aside or be killed. He stepped. The police arrived after three hours, and the son pulled up a tracking device on his laptop which showed the stolen truck’s location and that it was still being driven around town. The police told him, “Sorry, but we can’t do anything while it is moving. Let us know after it is stopped and we will send someone to check.” Son replies, “BUT WE KNOW WHERE IT IS! Can’t you send someone to intercept it?” Police respond, “Not till it stops. Don’t get excited. We do this all the time.” By the time the truck stopped and police got there it was stripped. Insurance will pay for the truck but not for the equipment. Total loss about $100K. Police say they see about 100 stolen cars per weekend.

    Conclusion? The same authorities who sold us “Safe and effective!”, are still marketing “To serve and protect!”.

  9. Ralph B says:

    I have Maypop growing all over the hedge in my backyard. Haven’t tried the fruit yet, birds or squirrels usually get to them first. It’s also called passion fruit and has beautiful flowers. Do you have the air potato? I am a little north of you in Jacksonville

  10. beng135 says:

    Asclepias syriaca, a common milkweed in many areas (I transplant a few to my front to attract monarchs), is edible if double-boiled to remove the latex. The young shoots, young flower-buds and young pods are all edible. https://youtu.be/vHqafM5wyd8

  11. AnnieM says:

    You seriously sprayed an area that you want to grow edible plants with RoundUp? SMH

  12. John Hultquist says:

    RoundUp came out in the mid-1970s. I’ve used it almost every year since then. Not a lot, but perhaps 5 to 10 gallons per year properly mixed per instructions. I also like my bacon crisp. 😊

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    I sprayed a climbing weed on a fence. The roundup will transport to the root stalk that looks to be about 30 feet down the fence… I intend to plant from the other end (about 50 feet away) and eventually work my way back to that root area in a few years, by which time the glyphosate (not RoundUp brand… but the same ingredient) will be gone.

    BTW, it is now common practice to ‘dry off’ wheat fields by spraying them with glyphosate… so when the wheat dies, some is still in the plant. If you eat commercial wheat products, you are getting a dose of it… Similarly the “RoundUp Ready” corn and other crops used in just about every processed food. Though for them it isn’t used to kill “dry off” the crop, but sprayed in several rounds while the crop grows. The stuff is everywhere.

    So yes. I sprayed it in the area where I’m going to grow stuff I intend to eat; and I’ll get less of it in me than if I had a bowl of corn pops with toast…

    If your worry is not about intake, but plant growth: It doesn’t get into the soil in enough concentration to do much to the next generation of plantings. The way I used it was more or less “spot treating” anyway. Plants right next to the ones I sprayed show no ill effects (no browning or leaf drop or even slowed growth) so my squirts were accurate enough. Then add in our copious rain volume and the soil ends up pretty much washed sand “right quick’. My major effort for the next year will be building organic matter in the soil. So a LOT of bags of “potting soil” and mulch to come in and go on top of the sand… eventually to mix in. So where plants actually put roots will tend to be a different layer than where the weeds were…

    BTW, I did think about this a lot. In California I had run my garden as a pesticide free nearly organic qualified plot. (Didn’t worry about the ‘no chemical fertilizer’ requirement as NO3 doesn’t know where it was made…) Did that for about 30 years, and generally despise glyphosate use in agriculture. But for starting a new plot with a marvelous collection of hearty weeds in it, well… Then my usual method (put 9 inches of mulch over dirt after “hula hoe” cuts their roots) doesn’t work so well for things on a fence (major root on the backside of chain link where I can’t cut it easily and about 4 inches of wood… for one of the vine types). Finally, I’m pretty sure it just regrows from a cut stalk anyway… so need to kill the root system too.


    I used about 2 gallons of diluted mix, max, over about 200 linear feet of fence line (of which about 20 feet are planted with something edible within 2 feet of it). All on weeds that had taken over the fence. Most of it with no access to the root / stem area as it was back to back with the neighbors fences leaving about a 4 inch strip of impossible to reach dirt. I can’t think of any other way to kill those roots and established plants (and no, I’m not going to work through a couple of inch chain link hole with a kitchen knife and / or hacksaw blade… over a few hundred feet…)

    Oh, and I like my bacon anywhere from “greasy” as Mum made it when I had a sore throat to crisp near burnt as Dad sometimes made it (and all points in between).

    I also love flame BBQ ribs & chicken… no doubt with lots of flavourful acrylamide and aeromatic hydrocarbons in it… “Not dead yet!”… and I’ve exceeded the lifespan of a lot of my cohort generation (and that of both my parents…) So I’m wondering if Nietzsche had something right… (“That which does not kill us makes us stronger”, which I’ve often thought left out something and ought to say “That which does not kill us or cripple us or leave us with pernicious injury might make us stronger”… but that’s just me…)

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    Starting over at the top of the comments:

    @John H.:

    I’m growing chayote on the fence and it is a kind of squash. Over time, I’m hoping to get Seminole Pumpkin seed and it likes to climb. Most of the summer squash seeds I have are bush type and don’t have climbing tendrils / actions; but I’m likely to try some Acorn Squash or similar if I can find good vining types. (One Chayote plant can make up to 400 squash a year, and I’ve already planted 3… and that leaves about 80% of the fence line to go… so gotta find an alternative ;-)


    “Milkweed” is a large tribe of plants, some of which are Monarch Butterfly food.


    I knew about “Eat The Weeds” as a book. Didn’t know the guy was in Florida (or that he had a web site, but it figures…). Thanks for the link!


    Had to dispatch an oleander in the back yard in California (new kids & dog…) Just seemed like a bad idea to have a lethal bush where they could chew on it…

    Yeah, I’m not big on random foraging of misc. plants. Something about having grown up where Jimson Weed was a common weed… and poison oak was all over the place…

    https://www.britannica.com › plant › jimsonweed
    Jimsonweed | Plant, Hallucinogen, Poisonous, & Facts | Britannica
    jimsonweed, (Datura stramonium), also called thorn apple or devil’s snare, annual herbaceous plant of the nightshade family (Solanaceae). Possibly native to Central America, the plant is considered an invasive species throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. It was used by Algonquin Indians in eastern North America, among other indigenous peoples of the Americas, as a hallucinogen and …

    So unless I absolutely KNOW it is edible, I’m not going to try it. Heck, even pulling spurge in the back yard in California sent me to the emergency room once. Just a tiny bit of sap on a finger got into my eyes somehow and it was burning hell time. (Looking it up, the euphorbia sap can cause blindness in enough quantity but burns like hell in any amount…) This has left me very cautious about even touching unknown plants with a milky sap… And several rounds of Poison Oak have left me shy of those without milky sap…

    IF I can make a certain identification, I’d be willing to forage. So I’ve had wild walnuts, “miner’s lettuce”, pine needle tea, and some others. But only if there is no doubt…


    Retail stores are constantly evaluating stores for closure (and areas to add new stores). Walmart will close stores that don’t make money (due to shoplifting or any other cause) and will add stores where it’s profitable.

    There’s a lot of folks trying to paint that as “The Collapse!!!”, so you have to figure out if it is just click bait of normal store closure, or something worse. I’ve not put the time into that to figure it out for Walmart. (Look at the Annual Statement for total store growth / shrink and revenue growth figures).

    In any case, the “Steal me under $1k” laws as just stoopid and encourage folks to start up the crime ladder…


    That is just crazy. Why wait for it to stop? Catch them in the act.

    @Ralph B:

    No “air potato” and don’t even know what it is.

    Have a lot of squirrels, so looking for Squirrel Proof plants where possible. Ether that, or I need to plant enough that the Very Fat Squirrels can’t get out on the thinner branches so some is left for me… (plus have a standing crop of squirrel for TEOTWAWKI…)


    Nice to know. Now I just need to know how to identify Common Milkweed.

    Where I grew up, some other plant was called milkweed, but it wasn’t. It was a kind of wild lettuce instead. So some unlearning / relearning needed… It’s amazing how much changes between the two coasts…

  15. The True Nolan says:

    @EM: “No “air potato” and don’t even know what it is.”

    WARNING! The so called “air potatoes” are a very mixed bag of blessings and curses. They are a running vine (think “kudzu”) that grows a very nice, above ground, sort of potato that you just pick off the vine. The good news? They are VERY prolific, they spread quickly, they grown abundant harvests of “potatoes”, and they are actually quite a pretty vine. The bad news? All but one or two varieties are not edible; they may even be poisonous, or at best distasteful. Did I say “prolific”? Make that invasive. REALLY invasive. They will spread from the root, they will spread where they touch the ground, they will spread from each individual potato as it falls to the dirt. I used to grow them as an ornamental vine on the front of my house until they became overwhelming. My wife had them at her old homestead and they grew so quickly they began to kill full grown trees. They are a REAL pain if they get out of control.

    I have a dream of growing one of the edible varieties someday. Maybe on an offshore island or in a Level Two Biolab. Maybe other readers have had more pleasant experiences.


  16. The True Nolan says:

    Near my home there is a roughly two acre field planted in turnips and daikon radish. It was planted by (I think) the local soil conservation service to improve soil quality. They have, however told everyone “come pick whatever you want”. Before the first freeze hit there were some people picking turnip greens, but after the cold the greens were rather pitiful. Very few were picking the actual turnips. No one seemed to know what to do with the daikon radish. All the more for me!

    The turnips have mostly gone into soups so far, although creamed mashed turnips are good too. The daikon has gone into a Korean pickle — diced about half inch square and then put into a vinegar/sugar/salt brine for a few days. That was very good. Also I made a daikon kimchi. Also very good, but ferment for an extra couple weeks to soften them up a bit more. Lastly, I tried just pan frying daikon today, just like one would fried potatoes. Edible, but not great. The texture is kind of chewy and there is still a bit too much bitterness. Oh well, add a little extra ketchup.

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