(Ait.) Ait. F. (Asclepiadaceae).
Dead Sea Apple
The leaves were used in Vedic times in sun worship.
The plants were considered sacred. Maruts worshipped on
Saturdays with garland of its flowers. Ancient Arab tribes
also had notions rooted in superstition about Calotropies
probably in relation to sun worship.
Hindu physicians used the secretions from the root bark to
treat skin diseases, enlargements of abdominal viscera,
intestinal worms, cough, ascites, anasarca etc. The milky
juice was regarded as a drastic purgative and caustic.
Flowers were considered to improve digestion, catarrh and
increase appetite. The leaf ash was given with whey to treat
ascites and enlargements of abdominal viscera. The root bark with latex was
smoked for cough. The root bark was also used to treat
elephantiasis in South India. Its milky juice was applied
In Cancon the flowering tops were used to treat asthma. The
plant was also used in the treatment of leprosy, hepatic and
splenic enlargements. Oil in which the leaves were boiled,
was used in treating paralysis. Leaf powder was used in
wound healing. It was considered as a substitute for
Ipecacuanha and also possess the properties of Gutta-persica.
The juice was used for the purpose of infanticide and was
sometimes taken by women to induce abortion. Tanners used
the milky juice to remove hair from hides.
It is found in most parts of the world in dry, sandy and
alkaline soils and warm climate. In India it is found from
Punjab and Rajasthan to Assam and Kanyakumari. Up to an
altitude of 1050 m. It grows abundantly in Rajasthan. It is
found in its waste lands and grows as a weed in agricultural
lands. It grows well on rubbish heaps, waste and fallow
lands, roadsides and sand dunes.
Morphology Description (Habit)
Erect, tall, large, much branched and perennial shrubs or
small trees that grow to a height of 5.4 m., with milky
latex throughout. Bark is soft and corky. Branches stout,
terete with fine appressed cottony pubescence (especially on
young). Leaves sub-sessile, opposite, decusate, broadly
ovate-oblong, elliptic or obovate, acute, thick, glaucous,
green, covered with fine cottony pubescent hair on young but
glabrous later and base cordate. Flowers in umbellate-cymes
and tomentose on young. Calyx glabrous, ovate and acute.
Corolla glabrous, lobes errect, ovate, acute, coronal scales
5-6, latterly compressed and equally of exceeding the
staminal column. Folicles are sub-globose or ellipsoid or
ovoid. Seeds broadly ovate, acute, flattened, minutely
tomentose, brown coloured and silky coma is 3.2 cm long.
In leaves mudarine is isolated as principal active
constituent. Besides a yellow bitter acid, resin and 3 toxic
glycosides calotropin, uscharin and calotoxin1.
In latex a powerful bacteriolytic enzyme2, a very
toxic glycoside calactin (which concentration is increased
on insect or grass hopper attack as defense mechanism),
calotropin D I, calotrapin D II, calotropin F I, calotropin
F II and a non toxic protealytic enzyme calotopin (2-3%) had
been identified This calotopin is more proteolytic than
papain, and bromelain and coagulates milk, digests meat,
gelatin and casein. whole plant contains a- and b-amyrin, b-amyrin,
teraxasterol, gigantin, giganteol, isogiganteol, b-sitosterol
and a wax.
The crude extract of C.procera and its protein fraction were
found to possess high fibrinolytic and anticoagulant
activity in rabbit and human plasma3.The
alcoholic extract of leaves and roots were found to have
anticancer activity against human epidermal carcinoma of the
nasopharynx in tissue culture4. The aqueous and
alcoholic extract has slight depression followed by
stimulation of the rate and force of myocaedial contraction
of isolated frog's heart. It also induce increase in blood
pressure in dog, marked contractions in rabbit duodenum,
rat's ileum and uterine horn of virgin rat. Aqueous extract
has mild diuretic effect on rat5. Latex has
anti-inflammatory properties. Petroleum ether extract of
flowers showed abortifacient activity.
In higher doses root bark causes nausea, vomiting and
diarrhoea. Prolonged higher doses cause head ache, burning
micturition and leucorrhoea. The latex contains some
poisonous constituents due to which it has a caustic effect
on mucous membrane and tender skin. It increases heartbeat
and respiration in animals leading to distress and death.
Accidental splashing of latex in to the eye causes
congestion of the eye with tear and local anaesthesia,
followed by deeper effect due to absorption. Caloropin is
one of the most violent poisons substances known. It is
15-20 times more toxic than strychnine6.
The medicinal properties are similar to C.gigantea. It has
bitter, healing, laxative and anthemintic properties that
relieves strangury, cures ulcers, acts as an expectorant.
Its leaves are used to relieve stomach pain. Its flower is a
tonic, appetiser, stomachic, that cures piles, asthma and
wounds. Its milky juice is a blistering agent. Its flowers
are useful in cholera.
- Chaudhri, Bull Bot Sur India, 3,171, 1961.
- Shukla, J Sci Indst Res, 20C, 109, 1961.
- Srivastava, Indian J Med Sci, 16, 873, 1962.
- Dhar, Indian J Exptl Biol, 6, 232, 1968; Bhakuni,
Indian J Exptl Biol, 7, 250, 1969.
- Devasari, Indian J Pharm, 27, 272, 1965.
- Perry, Medicinal Plants of East and South East Asia.