Asclepias L. (1753), the milkweeds, is an American genus of herbaceous perennial, dicotyledonous plants that contains over 140 known species. It previously belonged to the family Asclepiadaceae, but this is now classified as the subfamily Asclepiadoideae of the dogbane family Apocynaceae. Milkweed is named for its latex, a milky substance containing cardiac glycosides termed cardenolides that is exuded where cells are damaged. Most species are toxic. Carl Linnaeus named the genus after Asclepius, the Greek god of healing.
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