Calotropis gigantea: Crown flower

Family: Apocynaceae
Common name: Crown flower, Giant milkweed

Crown flowers are commonly seen in the wild, by roadsides, vacant plots, hillsides, riversides, almost everywhere. Children play with the flowers of this interesting plant, that belong to the milkweed family.

There are over 2000 species of plants in this category. They grow to a height of about 4 meters, producing white or light violet waxy flowers in big clusters of 5-10. Crown flowers have 5 distinct petals and a beautiful crown in the middle, which contains the stamens.

The crown in the light violet flowers looks very pretty and majestic, giving it the name ‘crown flower’. All parts of the plant contain a milky latex, which is toxic, and was used as arrow poison in earlier days.

Seed pods are long and green, which opens when the seeds are mature and ready to be dispersed by wind. Crown flower plants attract ants, bees and butterflies, which help in pollinating them.

These flowers are long-lasting and are used in flower arrangements, also to decorate deities in temples. Fibers obtained from this plant is used to make carpets, ropes, fishing nets and threads.

Seed floss is used to make stuffing for pillows. The leaves, roots and flowers are used in treatment of fever, nausea, vomiting, arthritis, snake bites and even cancer. It is also used in treatment of liver dysfunction, diabetes, leprosy and jaundice. Crown flowers keratitis is an eye infection caused by touching the latex of crown flower plant, and then touching the eyes.

Propagation is from seeds and stem cuttings.

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