a big dang milkweed

calotropis gigantea crown flower

What a beautiful plant. I have watched this specimen for a few years in the parking lot of “Thai Thai” restaurant in Covington and it is I think the answer to the butterfly folks’ problem of never having enough to feed their butterflies. It is huge. This awesome seemingly hardy flowering perennial (they grow to be small trees in tropical climates) has stature and the flowers are really showy, with leaves large, very pubescent and grey-ish underneath. Don’t tell anybody but I helped myself to some cuttings (corrective pruning).

The sap of the plant is poisonous but its used as a medicinal in many countries where it is native. Its used as a fiber plant and in rituals, and as a garden plant.

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above: milky sap when stems are cut

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I looked at the usda plants database and it is only listed in Hawaii.

Only problem with something like this is the invasive possibility, although I looked and didnt see anything on it being so in the continental U.S. But its escaped in Hawaii. Its native to CambodiaIndonesiaMalaysiaPhilippinesThailandSri LankaIndia and China.

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above: Leis made of Giant milkweed flowers.

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