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[milk-weed] /ˈmɪlkˌwid/
any of several plants that secrete a milky juice or latex, especially those of the genus Asclepias, as A. syriaca.
Compare milkweed family.
any of various other plants having a milky juice, as certain spurges.
Origin of milkweed
1590-1600; milk + weed1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for milkweed
  • She discovered that monarch butterflies absorbed toxins from milkweed in order to use them, as the plant did, for defence.
  • Several species of milkweed, including red and common, grow in the state where the plants appeal to butterflies.
  • Prairies also are present, with species such as cliff goldenrod, woolly milkweed and butterfly weed.
  • He describes planting milkweed in a tiny city courtyard about the size of a living room one spring.
  • Monarch butterflies begin life as eggs laid on the leaves of milkweed plants.
  • Monarchs obviously also use chemical defenses, but they don't eat extra milkweed when a flock of birds shows up.
  • The beautiful monarch butterfly lives it's entire life on the common milkweed plant.
  • milkweed also can have invasive characteristics in disturbed areas.
  • Grayish brown bands of dry, dead plant tissues on milkweed can be blight.
  • Both milkweed and dogbane are burned in the fall to eliminate dead stalks and stimulate new growth.
British Dictionary definitions for milkweed


Also called silkweed. any plant of the mostly North American genus Asclepias, having milky sap and pointed pods that split open to release tufted seeds: family Asclepiadaceae See also asclepias
any of various other plants having milky sap
orange milkweed, another name for butterfly weed
another name for monarch (sense 3)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for milkweed

1590s, from milk (n.) + weed (n.); used in reference to various plants whose juice resembles milk.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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