Calotropis gigantea

Continuing with the “Tropical Biodiversity” series theme, today’s image was taken in western India by dinesh_valke@Flickr (aka Dinesh Valke). Thank you! I’ve cropped the original image a bit in order to show additional detail on the flowers (image via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool).

With the sinking of the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae) into the dogbane family, Apocynaceae now includes over 400 genera and 4500 species. The genus Calotropis contains only two of these species: today’s featured species and Calotropis procera.

Calotropis gigantea is native to much of southern tropical Asia and parts of warm temperate Asia, reaching as far west as Iran. Common names abound for this species, including bowstring-hemp, crownplant, and giant-milkweed in English and madar in Hindi. It is considered a “useful weed“. “Weed” in this instance refers to its ability to grow in “waste” places or areas of significant disturbance, whereas useful alludes to its value in fibre production (or perhaps traditional medicine, though it contains a few nasty toxins).

An excellent account of the cultural history and economic uses of Calotropis gigantea was written by George Watt in 1900, though I’m not sure if all BPotD readers will be able to access this link: Madar. Calotropis gigantea R. Br., from the Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information (Royal Gardens, Kew), Vol. 1900.

Like yesterday’s taxon, Calotropis gigantea has naturalized in Hawaii, and Plants of Hawaii has another extensive image collection (including the use of flower blossoms in the creation of leis): Calotropis gigantea.

Calotropis gigantea

5 responses to “Calotropis gigantea”

  1. Caroline

    I think I’m so into your website that I’m starting to get BPoD ESP. Just this morning I changed my desktop background to a photo I took of this plant a few years ago! It makes nice wallpaper – I hope it’s not inappropriate to post it here (not sure what the etiquette is on that).
    By the way, I really appreciate all the work you do to maintain this website. It’s so nice to have interesting, colorful photos of actual, living plants pop up in my inbox to distract me from all the dead, brown plant specimens at work!

  2. Dinesh Valke

    Thank you very much, UBC BG.

  3. Justine M

    Looks like a delectable frozen dessert! YUM!!!

  4. bev

    Hi Daniel; wonderful photo. I don’t comment as much as I used to, but I wanted to say how much more meaningful it is to me now to read your site, after I visited UBC!! I remember your campus and garden now every time I view; it was wonderful!
    Keep up the good work!

  5. elizabeth a airhart

    from to a weed by g hall
    you argue in a manner of a weed,
    you do not make yourself grow from seed,
    you fancy you’ve a claim to standing-room
    you dream yourself a right to breath and bloom
    the links are fine and readable and images are so good
    not to worry about us fix your server all in good time
    the internet has been very very slow last week and this
    hope you find a good spam guard and there has been a virus
    happy travels daniel tis autum the sights should be grand bonjour

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