Milkweed fiber

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Common milkweed Asclepias syriaca


Fibers obtained from the seeds of any of several milkweed plants of the genus Asclepias. Milkweeds are a native perennial in North America. The seed pods produce a silky lightweight fuzz, called silk or floss. The lustrous, soft fibers are yellowish white in color. Milkweed fibers are too brittle to spin and are used for upholstery padding. They also have good buoyancy and were used as substitutes for Kapok in lifebuoys during World War II.

Common milkweed seed Asclepias syriaca

Synonyms and Related Terms

Asclepias; vegetable silk; milkweed floss; milkweed fibre (Br.); asclépiade (Fr.); zijdeplant (Asclepias syriaca) (Ned);


The sap and leaves of the plant are toxic to all mammals.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Fiber length = ~ 2 cm

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • R.King, E.Hartley, "Unusual Fibers Used in Northwest Coast Ethnographic Textiles, Their Preparation & Their Structure", Technology & Conservation, 1/79.
  • J.Gordon Cook, Handbook of Textile Fibres:I Natural Fibres, Merrow Publishing Co. , Durham, England, 1984
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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