Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Calotropis gigantea (L.) Dryand.

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Eudicots
Order:Gentianales
Family:Apocynaceae
Genus:Calotropis
Species:C. gigantea
Common Names:Crown Flower, Giant Milkweed
Status:Cultivated only

Description

A large shrub or a small evergreen tree, it can grow to a height of 3-4 m or more. All parts of the plant have an abundance of milky latex. The buds and young parts are densely wooly, as are the underside of the leaves. Leaves are simple, opposite, fleshy, large, 9-20 x 6-12.5 cm and the base deeply heart-shaped. Flowers are 4.5 cm wide, pale lilac-blue, the tips deeper in colour and are in axillary clusters. Fruits are pairs of large green and pale-yellow inflated pods, boat-shaped, 6.5-10 x 3-5 cm with many, flattened and rather broad seeds, each with a tuft of hairs 2.5-3 cm long.

Read more about the Gentianales order.
Read more about the Apocynaceae family.

Distribution

From India and Sri Lanka to Thailand and southern China. Naturalised in Malesia and Hawaii.

Human Uses

The plant is used in the treatment of syphilis, the leaves are applied as a poultice for sores and the juice dropped into deaf ears and sore eyes. Smoke from burnt leaves is inhaled to treat ulcerations of the nose and the latex is dropped into teeth with caries as well as boils. 

References

Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

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