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Calotropis gigantea - (L.) Dryand. ex W.T.Aiton

Common Name Giant Milkweed, Crown Flower, Giant Calotrope, Swallow-wort
Family Apocynaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The sap (latex) is somewhat poisonous[ 302 ]. It is used for poisoning arrows[ 299 ]. All parts of the plant are toxic, due to the presence of several cardiac glycosides[ 299 ]. The plant is also known to cause allergic contact dermatitis, and the latex causes kerato-conjunctivitis[ 299 ].(Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested)
Habitats Dry coastal areas, along the sheltered shores of lagoons, overgrazed pasture land[ 307 ]. Woods of dry areas, stream banks from sea level to 1,400 metres in southern China[ 266 ].
Range E. Asia - southern China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Calotropis gigantea Giant Milkweed, Crown Flower, Giant Calotrope, Swallow-wort

Calotropis gigantea Giant Milkweed, Crown Flower, Giant Calotrope, Swallow-wort
Forest Starr & Kim Starr http://www.starrenvironmental.com/

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Native to parts of Southeast Asia, India, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal, Crown Flower or Calotropis gigantean is a fast-growing, large shrub that reaches up to 4 m tall with clusters of white or lavender waxy flowers. The leaves are light green and oval. Crown flower produces a durable fiber known as 'Bowstring of India' used in making ropes and carpets among others. The plant reportedly has antifungal and insecticidal properties. In traditional medicine, crown flower is used as treatment for common diseases such as fever, coughs and colds, eczema, rheumatism, nausea, and diarrhoea. It yields poisonous latex that is used in poisoning arrows. The latex is also used for treatment for sprains, boils, body pains, and pimples. The bark is used for neurodermatitis and syphilis. Mature seed pods are sources of floss that have a wide range of uses. The wood is used as fuel and made into charcoal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Calotropis gigantea is an evergreen Tree growing to 5 m (16ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. and are pollinated by Bees, Butterflies, Wasps.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.


Asclepias gigantea L. Periploca cochinchinensis Lour. Streptocaulon cochinchinense (Lour.) G.Don


Edible Uses

The central part of the flower is candied and used as a sweetmeat[ 46 ]. An alcoholic drink is made from the leaves. The plant yields a manna.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The milky sap (latex) coagulates when warm and is said to have similar cardiac properties to digitalis (from various Digitalis spp.)[ 307 ]. It is also considered to be antiseptic, emetic, purgative and vermifuge[ 299 ]. It is used in the treatment of a variety of other conditions including dysentery, leprosy, elephantiasis, epilepsy, asthma and many other complaints[ 307 ]. Mixed with salt, it is taken orally as an emetic for treating severe colds[ 348 ]. In Nepal, the latex is applied to sprains, body pains, boils and pimples[ 272 ]. The milky latex is used externally to stop bleeding, and for treating a wide range of conditions including leprosy, rheumatism, ringworm, boils, scabies, stings, burns, bruises, cuts, sores and wounds, [ 299 , 348 ]. It is applied to the gums and teeth to treat caries and toothaches[ 299 ]. The bark is used as a medicine for the treatment of neurodermatitis and syphilis[ 266 ]. The powdered bark is used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery, elephantiasis, and leprosy [ 272 , 299 ]. The stem bark is diaphoretic and expectorant, and is used for dysentery, spleen complaints, convulsions, lumbago, scabies, ringworm, pneumonia, and to induce labour. An infusion of the leaves is used to treat severe chest colds and heart conditions[ 348 ]. The leaf juice is used in the treatment of intermittent fever[ 272 ]. The smoke of dried, burned leaves is inhaled to calm asthma attacks[ 299 ]. The crushed leaves are warmed and used as a poultice on sores, burns, headaches and rheumatic pains[ 46 , 266 , 272 , 299 ]. The powdered flowers are valued for treating coughs, colds and asthma[ 272 , 299 ]. An infusion is taken to treat intestinal worms, rheumatism and epileptic attacks[ 299 ]. The juice of young buds is dropped into the ear in the treatment of earache[ 272 ]. The fruit pulp is considered abortive[ 299 ].

Other Uses

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Seaside, Specimen, Large Planter, Coastal Screening, Xerophytic. Agroforestry Uses: As it thrives upon soils where nothing else will grow, needing neither culture nor water, it has been considered a good plant for bringing waste land under tillage and for reclaiming drifting sands[ 454 ]. The leaves can be used for mulching, green manuring of rice fields and for binding sandy soil[ 299 ]. The plant is sometimes grown as a hedge[ 299 ]. Other Uses: A fine fibre is obtained from the bark of the stems[ 266 , 302 , 454 ]. Very strong, it is said to possess many of the qualities of flax (Linum usitatissimum), though it is somewhat finer[ 46 , 454 ]. It is much used for making textiles, fishing nets and bowstrings[ 307 , 454 ]. The mature seed pods contain a large quantity of floss, which has a variety of uses. For example, it can be used to stuff pillows etc or mixed with other fibres to make cloth[ 112 , 159 , 169 , 171 , 454 ]. It is a Kapok substitute, being very water repellent it can be used as a buoyancy aid in Life Jackets or as a stuffing material[ 112 ]. The floss absorbs oil whilst repelling water and so has also been used to mop up oil spills at sea. Candlewicks can be made from the seed floss[ 112 , 207 ]. The twigs are used as chewsticks for cleaning the teeth[ 299 , 307 ]. The juice is used in making a yellow dye and in tanning[ 266 ]. The wood is sometimes used for fuel, but it is of poor quality[ 299 ]. However, a good quality charcoal is obtained from the wood and can be used for making gunpowder[ 272 , 299 , 307 ]. Attractive flowers are long lasting and used for floral arrangements. May exhibit mosquito controlling properties against Culex gelidus and Culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquitoes which serves as vectors for Japanese encephalitis. Host to a variety of insects and butterflies including Hawaii's non-migratory monarch butterflies.

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Fiber;  Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon;  Management: Coppice;  Management: Standard;  Regional Crop.

Succeeds in the drier tropics. Most commonly found in areas of the tropics with a specific dry season, at elevations up to 1,000 metres[ 299 ]. An excellent plant for the seaside garden[ 307 ]. Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position[ 302 ]. Succeeds in a variety of soils, but prefers littoral, sandy soils[ 299 ]. Plants can thrive in dry sands[ 454 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[ 307 ]. Plants are tolerant of salt-laden winds[ 307 ]. One hectare of ground stocked with plants 30cm apart can yield 24 tonnes of green stems, from which 260 - 350 kilos of fibre can be obtained[ 454 ]. The plant is of great religious significance in India, where it is sacred to the God Shiva[ 307 ]. Plants can flower all year round, but the main flowering is in the hot season[ 299 ].


Seeds, Cuttings. Layering. Seed Collecting: Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds. Some suggestions that gloves should be worn to protect hands when handling seeds.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Crown Flower or Calotropis gigantean. Other Names: Biduri, Indian milkweed, Kapal kapal, Kayu berduri, Kemengu, Lechoso, Pua kalaunu, Rak-dok, Rembaga, Remiga, Widuri. Bow-string hemp, Crown-flower.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Found In: Africa, Angola, Asia, Burma, Central Africa, Central America, China, East Africa, East Timor, Guyana, Hawaii, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Pacific, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Samoa, SE Asia, Seychelles, South America, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad-Tobago, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Indies.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Calotropis proceraAuricula Tree, Dead Sea Apple, Sodom Apple13


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(L.) Dryand. ex W.T.Aiton

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For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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