One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of various trees having a milky sap; especially (a) Jamaican the tree Pseudolmedia spuria (family Moraceae); (b) South African any of several trees of the family Sapotaceae, especially (more fully "white milkwood"), Sideroxylon inerme, a low-growing tree bearing creamy flowers and round, purple-black fruit, and (more fully "red milkwood") any of several shrubs and trees of the genus Mimusops, especially M. obovata, M. caffra, and M. zeyheri; compare melkhout; (c) Australian any of several trees of the family Apocynaceae, especially Alstonia scholaris.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in Hans Sloane (1660–1753), physician and collector. From milk + wood.
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