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Giant milkweed




Giant milkweed Information

English Name:

Giant milkweed

Common Name:

Crown flower

Scientific Name:

Calotropis gigantea

Local Name:

Ruvaa

Name in Dhivehi:

ރުވާ

Synonyms:

Bowstring hemp


Kingdom:

Plantae

Order:

Family:

Genus:



Giant milkweed IUCN Red List Status

Giant milkweed Description

A medium sized shrub that may grow up to 3 m tall. Bark of the stem is yellowish- grey and has longitudinal fissures. Leaves are elliptic to oblong in shape, 8 to 10 cm long and 5 to 8 cm wide with pointed tip and heart-shaped base. Leaves are thick and feathery to touch, covered with soft white hairs. Flowers are arranged in auxiliary or sub-terminal simple or compound flower head. Flowers are drawn on the outside. Corolla is about 2 to 3 cm in diameter and dull purple or purplish-lilac in colour. In a variety of giant milkweed flowers are white in colour. Fruit is follicle, recurved, oblong in shape and about 7 to 10 cm in length. Seeds are ovate in shape, 5 to 6 mm long with bright, silky-white fibrous material (floss). Flowers are produced throughout the year.

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Giant milkweed Distribution and Habitat

Found mostly in wasted land nearby residential areas. Calotropis gigantea is normally considered as a wasteland weed. It is found growing in all types of soil including wet clay soil to dry coastal sands. It grows in a xerophytic condition also. It is not normally cultivated but in some countries it is grown as an ornamental plant. In nature, seeds with a parachute of hairs (floss) are easily spread by winds. Seeds are also spread by water over a long distance. Local stands of C. gigantea normally increase through root suckers.

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Giant milkweed Relationship with Human & Uses

Strong fibre can be extracted from the stem, which is durable under water. In the Maldives, giant milkweed stems are kept in the seawater till they become soft and then fibre is extracted from the softened stems. This fibre is so strong that it is commonly used to make loops in the fishing lines from which hooks are suspended. Fibre extracted from the stems was once used as bowstring. Wood is used to make fine quality charcoal and gunpowder. Floss obtained from the fruit is used to stuff mattresses. The plant as a whole can be allowed to mulch in the soil to provide protection to crops against soil-borne microbes. In the traditional medicine of the Maldives, five parts of the plant, namely, roots, bark, leaves, flowers and fruits are used to treat rheumatism. Leaves are considered as a good pain reliever. The matured leaves are smeared with sesame oil, warmed and pressed on aching body parts to provide relief from pain.

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Giant milkweed Information

English Name:

Giant milkweed

Common Name:

Crown flower

Scientific Name:

Calotropis gigantea

Local Name:

Ruvaa

Name in Dhivehi:

ރުވާ

Synonyms:

Bowstring hemp


Kingdom:

Plantae

Phylum:

Class:

Order:

Family:

Genus:


Giant milkweed References

  • Trees and Shrubs of Maldives by Ministry of Environment and Energy.