Location: Bio-oils Research Unit
Title: Novel synthetic products from the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L) and their potential in the rural farm economy Author
Submitted to: International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 15, 2010
Publication Date: December 15, 2010
Citation: Harry O Kuru, R.E. 2010. Novel synthetic products from the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L) and their potential in the rural farm economy [abstract]. International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Meeting. p. 97. Technical Abstract: The common milkweed is of the family Asclepiadaceae which comprises over 200 genera and 2500 species including Asclepias syriaca L and its near relatives, A. speciosa and A. tuberosa. Asclepias syriaca, or the common milkweed, is a perennial that is native to the Americas and is so named because of its latex and its image to most farmers as a nuisance, at best, and a nightmare, at worst, if present among the crop at harvest. Although the plant contains some latex, its economic importance lies in its seed-floss which equips the seed for wind dispersal. The floss is in the market as hypoallergenic fiber-fill in high-end pillows, comforters and jacket linings. This is the same plant component that made milkweed a “War Strategic Material in World War II,” when it served in floatation devices for our Airmen and Sailors. The seeds’ only found use hitherto was in highway beautification and butterfly nursery plantings. This seed, however, contains highly unsaturated (92%) triglycerides; the oil content being 25-30% by weight of the dry seed. From this highly olefinated seed-oil, we have developed polyoxirane and polyhydroxy triglyceride platforms that lead to many useful personal care base materials as well as biobased lubricating agents and additive products. The impact of this alternative crop is improvement in the rural farm economy.