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 ?
Widely admired for its eye-catching wings and transcontinental migrations, the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, depends on milkweed plants to survive.
Another study by Iowa State University also showed monarch larvae dying after eating milkweed leaves containing Bt pollen in field conditions.
The milkweed oil product accomplished this at very low concentrations (1 to 5 percent by weight) and represents a range far below that approved for today's topical skin formulations.
We studied several conditions to extract fibers from the milkweed stems based on our experiences in obtaining fibers from various agricultural byproducts.
As they travel, "the migrating female butterflies lay eggs for up to a thousand miles on milkweed plants," says Chip Taylor, an entomologist who studies insects at the University of Kansas.
"There's not that much milkweed around, and we need to do this to help the butterflies," she said.
I fashioned a screen lid and then put five full-grown caterpillars into their new home on July 7th (2003), with some milkweed to eat until the big change occurred.
Not least among the uses of common milkweed, however, is its versatility as a vegetable.
Minneapolis' Milkweed Editions is preparing a manuscript of Stafford's poems on peace and war, due out this fall.
Butterfly watchers have spotted monarchs as far west as rainy Tofino on Vancouver Island, and in a handful of gardens in the Fraser Valley where various kinds of milkweed have been cultivated.
Perhaps the most startling conclusion of the human genome project was the discovery that humans have only about 32,000 genes, which is only about 75 percent more than a nematode worm has, and only 25 percent more than a milkweed. This in itself suggests that the vast differences between humans and milkweeds must be caused by far more than what we can see in their differing genomes.