One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of various shrubs or small trees of the southern hemisphere which have a milky sap and are often succulent; especially (a) South African and Indian English, the small tree Euphorbia tirucalli (family Euphorbiaceae), native to Africa and cultivated or naturalized in parts of India and South-East Asia; (b) Australian the shrub Wrightia saligna (family Apocynaceae), formerly used as a fodder plant; (c) Australian the caustic bush, Sarcostemma australe.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in John Ovington (1653–1731). From milk + bush.
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