Wednesday, March 19, 2008

To the East of the High Atlas Mountains

Well done Jackie! Yes, the Sahara Desert in on the lee side of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

So we were on our way to our camel trekking excursion when our guide stopped to point out this plant to us. It is an amazing plant as it was by far the largest plant around and the only broad leafed plant I had seen for hours.

Our guide told us it was called Calotropis procera. Today I did some research on it.

my daughter checking out Calotropis procera

Common names include Apple Of Sodom, Rubberbush, and Giant Milkweed. It is a member of the Asclepias family, and is related to the lovely orange flowered drought tolerant garden plant commonly known as Butterfly Weed. It is one of the few plants that neither goats nor camels will eat.

the flower buds

It seems it is being considered for cancer treatment. From the SciELO website:
"Calotropis procera, a wild growing plant is well known for its medicinal uses in traditional system of medicine for the treatment of variety of disease conditions that include leprosy, ulcers, tumors and piles... The milky white latex obtained from the plant exhibits potent anti-inflammatory activity in various animal models that is comparable to standard anti-inflammatory drugs... It has been well established through various experimental and clinical studies that drugs possessing anti-inflammatory activity also exhibit anti-cancer properties."
The dried seed pod

And from the Herb Society of America website:
" is a magnificent shrub, reaching 10 feet tall, with large silver-green leaves, clusters of waxy purple-tipped flowers, and inflated pale green seed pods. The pods split open when ripe to release silk-tufted seed to the wind. The latex is poisonous, containing digitalis-like compounds that affect the heart, and is used to make arrow poison. Medicinally, the acrid sap latex is used to treat boils, infected wounds and other skin problems in people, and to treat parasitic skin infestations in animals. It also yields ash for making gunpowder, and extremely strong fiber."

the seeds

There are a number of interesting comments from people growing it in Florida on the Daves Garden website. It seems that the plant is a favourite of Monarch butterflies.

What an interesting plant!


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