milkweed


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milkweed,

common name for members of the Asclepiadaceae, a family of mostly perennial herbs and shrubs characterized by milky sap, a tuft of silky hairs attached to the seed (for wind distribution), and (usually) a climbing habit. Forms of this primarily tropical family are especially abundant in South America and in Africa, where many are succulents. Only a few genera are temperate; those species native to the United States are mostly of the genus Asclepias, the milkweeds, or silkweeds. The common milkweed, a plentiful roadside and field plant of the eastern and central states, is A. syriaca. A number of western species are poisonous to livestock, especially sheep. The milkweeds have been utilized as food (particularly the young shoots and buds), masticatory, medicament, and fiber. Some species yield an excellent bast fiber, like flax, but are difficult to cultivate and refine. The readily obtainable seed hairs from wild plants were sometimes used as a rather inferior substitute for kapok. Several species have been examined as potential sources of natural rubber; Palay rubber comes from a species of Crypostegia native to Madagascar. Among the milkweeds grown as ornamentals, the showy-blossomed butterfly weed or pleurisy root (A. tuberosa), native to the United States, was eaten by the Native Americans for lung and throat ailments. Hoya is an Old World genus that includes the wax plant (H. carnosa), a tropical climbing shrub cultivated as a pot plant for its fleshy leaves and fragrant waxy flowers. The milkweed family is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Gentianales.
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milkweed

milkweed

CAREFUL Pink-purple flowers in clusters that sometimes droop.When it comes up in the springtime, you can use the young shoots and leaves just like asparagus. The white sap in the stem is a bitter latex that can be applied to warts, moles, ringworm, skin cancer and poison ivy rash. Young shoots, leaves and small young pods can be used as a vegetable (not the bigger older ones with all the fluffy stuff inside) if boiled and water replaced. Get rid of white latex by putting in water. Not poisonous in low doses, but the white sap latex is better used externally. Only eat the pods when young and seeds are white. The seeds become poisonous when they mature and start turning brown. Cooking makes milkweed safer to eat. Root tea used for kidney stones, asthma and expectorant to clear mucus. Know what you are doingsome milkweeds are poisonous. If not totally sure, don’t consume.

Milkweed

 

swallowwort (Asclepias), a genus of mainly herbaceous plants of the family Asclepiadaceae. There are over 100 species in America and several in Africa. The best known is the Syrian milkweed, or Aescupapius’ herb (A. syriaca), a perennial native to America. It is cultivated and readily becomes wild. In the USSR the milkweed that has grown wild is found in the Baltic areas, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, and the Caucasus.

Milkweed is a tall plant (up to 2 m) with compact, for the most part elongated-elliptical, leaves. Its lilac reddish, small, fragrant flowers are gathered into umbellate inflorescences. Fruit grows in the form of follicles. White, silky floss on the seeds facilitates their distribution by wind. The milky sap contains tar and rubber components; the seeds contain more than 20 percent semisiccative oils, suitable for technical purposes. A sturdy fiber is obtained from the stalk for manufacture of coarse fabrics and ropes. Syrian milkweed is a drought-resistant, nectariferous plant, unfastidious in cultivation. This species and other species of milkweed are sometimes grown as decorative plants.

M. E. KIRPICHNIKOV

milkweed

[′milk‚wēd]
(botany)
Any of several latex-secreting plants of the genus Asclepias in the family Asclepiadaceae.
References in periodicals archive ?
Recently, the monarch butterfly population has declined, in part, because of the loss of overwintering site habitat, changing weather patterns and the reduction in milkweed habitat.
Long considered a nuisance plant, milkweed has been disappearing fast in recent decades due to the use of chemical herbicides and deforestation.
I was very surprised when, instead of going on about history, Milkweed goes into the perspective of a boy.
Some monarch populations migrate thousands of miles from breeding and wintering grounds, but along the route, there is less of the milkweed they depend upon to nourish them and on which they lay their eggs, a loss caused by more corn and soybeans, logging, construction and a drought that peaked in 2012.
There are also some efforts in the US to boost the milkweed habitat of the butterflies.
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation reports that the monarchs are generally known to use milkweed plants for hatching eggs and nourishing the delicate larvae.
This last brood will need nectar plants, but Monarchs will only lay their eggs on plants in the milkweed family, Asclepiadaceae.
Caption: Monarch butterflies showed physiological effects of road salting when caterpillars, like the one shown here on a milkweed, fed on plants that picked up extra sodium.
The book concludes with a page of essential factual information on the monarchs including its mating, feeding on milkweed and predators, an illustrated glossary, a short list of reading and websites including one on how to make a butterfly garden, and an index.
poetry and nonfiction are forthcoming from Milkweed Editions.
But milkweed is food for the larvae--or caterpillars--of the monarch butterfly.