melkbos, noun

Forms:
Formerly also melkbosch.
Origin:
Afrikaans, South African DutchShow more Afrikaans (earlier South African Dutch melkbosch), melk milk + bos forest, bush.
1. Any of several species of low, shrubby plants which produce a white (often poisonous) latex when injured. a. Any of several species belonging to the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae): i. Either of two species of Asclepias, A. fruticosa or A. physocarpa. See also wild kapok (wild sense a). ii. Any of several species of Sarcostemma. b. Any of several species of the genus Euphorbia of the Euphorbiaceae, especially E. mauritanica, and including E. hamata (see sense c below); see also milk-bush sense (b) at milk sense 2. Also attributive, and (occasionally) melkbossie [see -ie].
1862 A Lady Life at Cape (1963) 100Here..you find tufts of reed called the ‘melkbosch’, which are full of a milky fluid, only grateful to goats, for sheep will not touch it.
1887 S.W. Silver & Co.’s Handbk to S. Afr. 161While the designation Melkbosch is given to the Euphorbiaceae, or Spurge-plants, it is applied to any plant having a milk-like sap.
1917 R. Marloth Dict. of Common Names of Plants 57Melkbos, Various plants with a white latex in the bark or young wood, belonging either to the genus Euphorbia or to some genera of Asclepiads, mostly bearing also some other name.
1920 F.C. Cornell Glamour of Prospecting 46Tattered, torn, dusty, covered in melkbosch-juice from the thickets we had traversed.
1936 C. Birkby Thirstland Treks 126The melkbos (like gigantic asparagus) and the aloes are undisturbed by passers-by.
1940 V. Pohl Bushveld Adventures 24In the first place, no other weapon than the full-leafed branch of a melk-bossie might be employed in the attack; and more often than not your bossie was smashed on your own head long before the enemy had been subdued.
1940 V. Pohl Bushveld Adventures (Glossary)Melkbossie, Shrub, with a white resinous sap.
1958 L.G. Green S. Afr. Beachcomber 24Often they camped in the melkbos on the south side of the vlei at Betty’s Bay.
1971 D.H. Woods in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. IV. 560The flora is highly xerophytic, including the quiver-tree or kokerboom.., the halfmens.., while communities of melkbos (Sarcostemma spp.) occur on valley slopes and plateaus.
1974 H. Hall in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. X. 339Euphorbiaceae, The succulent members of this large family usually belong to the cosmopolitan genus Euphorbia, popularly known as melkbos (‘milk-bush’ — referring to the latex).
[1988 J. Munday Poisonous Plants in S. Afr. Gardens & Parks 32Asclepias fruticosa, Gansies, Melkbos, Milkweed, Tonteldoosbos, Wild swans...A. physocarpa, Balbossie, Melkbos, Milkweed, Wild cotton, Wildekapok.]
1989 M. Roberts Herbs for Healing 79Warts. Apply any of the following directly onto the wart, at regular intervals: the milky juice of Melkbos or a Fig leaf.
2. With defining word: olifantmelkbos, olifantsmelkbos [Afrikaans, olifant elephant (+ linking phoneme (or plural) -s-)], the plant Euphorbia hamata of the Euphorbiaceae; see also sense 1 b above.
Note:
Used as a food for livestock (see quotation 1966).
1898 in T.R. Sim Forests & Forest Flora (1907) 316The local name of the plant [Euphorbia cervicornis] is Olifant Melkbosch.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 347Olifant melkbosch,..Euphorbia cervicornis.
1961 Palmer & Pitman Trees of S. Afr. 235The olifants melkbos of Namaqualand, a shrub with a large succulent root and small crown, played an important part in the early economy of the country.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 355Olifantsmelkbos, Euphorbia hamata..: A unisexual plant, forming large, spreading growths from a tuberous rootstock. Stem succulent with copious latex...An excellent fodder plant which is much valued and carried as food for stock when trekking through the arid parts..where the plant is not found.
3. In full melkbos tree: a. The small tree Diplorhynchus condylocarpon of the Apocynaceae. b. the milkwood (sense (a) see milk sense 2), Sideroxylon inerme of the Sapotaceae.
1939 D. Rame Wine of Good Hope I. 92They camped below melk-bosch trees.
1951 L.G. Green Grow Lovely 199An even more historic landmark..is the gnarled melkbos tree known as the ‘old slave tree’.
1957 L.G. Green Beyond City Lights 160Before the seventeenth century ended a wagon track was built over Constantia Nek so that timber from the great melkbos and wild olive and yellowwood trees could be transported to the Table Bay settlement.
1957 Cape Times 18 Feb. 2Seedlings from the old Melkbos tree at Mossel Bay should be cultivated.
1957 Cape Times 12 Sept. 2The Board decided to give a melkbosch tree for an afforestation scheme.
1964 L.G. Green Old Men Say 261Behind the house grew two melkbos trees, and one ancient specimen is still there.
1972 Palmer & Pitman Trees of Sn Afr. III. 1911One of the features of the tree [Diplorhynchus condylocarpon] is its milky latex which when ‘dry’ is soft, sticky and rubber-like, and which gives it the common names of ‘rubber tree’ or ‘melkbos’.
1982 J. Krige in Staffrider Vol.5 No.2, 21Tired and exhausted we flopped down under the shade of a melkbos.
1988 G. Croudace Secret of Rock 36The wind was still raging..tossing the branches of the melkbos, though their camp in the lee of the slow-growing tree was fairly sheltered.
Either of two species of Asclepias, A. fruticosa or A. physocarpa.
Any of several species of Sarcostemma.
Any of several species of the genus Euphorbia of the Euphorbiaceae, especially E. mauritanica, and including E. hamata (see c below);
olifantmelkbos, olifantsmelkbos, olifant elephant (+ linking phoneme (or plural) -s-), the plant Euphorbia hamata of the Euphorbiaceae;
The small tree Diplorhynchus condylocarpon of the Apocynaceae.
the milkwood (sense (a) see milk2), Sideroxylon inerme of the Sapotaceae.

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18621989