Calotropis gigantea (L.) Dryand.

Last updated: 16 Nov 2016

Scientific Name

Calotropis gigantea (L.) Dryand.


Asclepias gigantea L., Calotropis gigantea (L.) R. Br. ex Schult., Madorius giganteus (L.) Kuntze, Periploca cochinchinensis Lour., Streptocaulon cochinchinense (Lour.) G. Don. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Berduri, kemengu, lembegah, merigu, rembega, remiga, remigu [2]
English Asclepiad tee, bowstring-hemp, crown flower, crown plant, giant Indian milkweed, giant milkweed, giant milky weed, gigantic swallow wort, madar, madar flower, milkweed, mudar [2]
China Niu jiao gua [2]
India Aak, aank, ahauna, ahgaram, akado, akarai, akda cha jhada, akdamu-jhada, akuan, alark, arak arak mara, arakkanceti, arka-gida, arkagatch, aruccunam, attaticam, badabadam, bili ekkada gida, caikattilam, cantamayam, catakam, catanapam, ciraccatam, erukku, himarati, jilledu, kanatipam, lalakava, mirugusayidagam, nattam, nella-jilledu, puchhi, racajilledu, sadabudam, tellajilledu, titamai, utumparakam, vantumuli, vara gaha, viccanta, vikshira, ittirakam, yakkeda gida, yokada [2]
Indonesia Bidhuri, rubik, sidaguri [2]
Thailand Po thuean, paan thuean, rak [2]
Laos Dok hak, dok kap, kok may[2]
Myanmar Maioh, mayo, mayo-beng, mayo-bin, mayo-mayo-pin, mayo-pin, mayoe-gyi [2]
Philippines Kapal-kapal, mudra [2]
Vietnam Bong bong, b[oof]ng b[oof]ng, coc may, la hen, l[as] hen, nam ti ba, nam t[if] b[af] [2]
Tibet A rga, a-rka, shi-khanda [2]
Nepal Aank, akanda, auk, mada, yak [2].

Geographical Distributions

Calotropis gigantea can be found distributed from India and Sri Lanka to Thailand and southern China, naturalised in Malesia and Hawaii in coastal areas. [3]

Botanical Description

C. gigantea falls under the family of Apocyneae. This species is a large shrub or small tree, about 3-4(-10) m tall. [3]

The stems are erect, up to 20 cm in diameter. [3]

The leaves are broadly elliptical to oblong-obovate in shape, with the size of 9-20 cm x 6-12.5 cm but subsessile. The cymes are 5-12.5 cm in diameter. [3]

The inflorescence stalk is 5-12 cm long, stalk of an individual flower is 2.5-4 cm long. Sepal lobes are broadly egg-shaped with a size of 4-6 mm x 2-3 mm. Petal is 2.5-4 cm in diameter. The petal lobes are broadly triangular measuring 10-15 mm x 5-8 mm; they are pale lilac and cream coloured towards the tips. The outgrown like structure from the petal (corona) has 5 narrow fleshy scales, connected to and shorter than the staminal column, forming an upturned horn with 2 obtuse auricles on either side, cream coloured or lilac to purple, with a dense longitudinal dorsal row of short white hairs. [3]

The egg-shaped or boat-shaped fruits are mostly in pairs, inflated, 6.5-10 cm x 3-5 cm. [3]


C. gigantea is a common weed in open waste ground, roadsides and railway lines, as well as village surroundings. It grows especially on littoral sandy soils and dry uncultivated land, with periodic dry periods. [3]

Chemical Constituent

C. gigantea have been reported to contain 1-methoxy-4-ethyl naphthalene, 6-(2-methyl-2,3-dihydroxypentyl)-11, 11-dimethylcyclohex-8-ene-10-one-7-oic isopentenyl ester, 14-(15,15-dimethyl cyclohexanyl-14,19,25-tricyclo)-3,7,11-trihydroxymethylene-tridecane, 8,15-dihydrobenzofuranyl-18-hepta-7,15-dione-16-oic acid. [4]

Plant Part Used

Leaves and roots. [3]

Traditional Use

C. gigantea has been use since ancient time to treat several illnesses such as toothache, earache, sprain, anxiety, pain, epilepsy, diarrhoea and mental disorder. [5]

The leaves are applied as a poultice for sores, and the smoke of burnt leaves is inhaled to treat ulcerations of the nose. [3]

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

The aqueous extract of the C. gigantea was studied for its antagonistic activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeuginosa, Micrococcus luteus and Klebsiella pneumonia. In vitro antimicrobial activity was performed by well diffusion method in MH agar. The extract showed maximum zone of inhibition against E. coli (17.6±1.15), whereas lowest against K. pneumonia (12.6±1.52). Crude extract showed maximum relative percentage inhibition against B. cereus (188.52%) and lowest relative percentage inhibition against M. luteus (24.92%). Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) was measured by modified agar well diffusion method. Extract showed 50, 25, 6.25, 3.11, 1.5 and 12.5 mg/ml MIC values for S. aureus, K. pneumonia, B. subtilis, P. aeruginosa, M. luteus and E.coli, respectively. [5]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

Latex. [7]


An unidentified vesicant allergen in the latex, calcium oxalate crystals, and cardioactive steroids resembling digitalis. [6] C. gigantea contains a number of toxic cardenolides in the all parts including the roots. Cardenolides are C(23)-steroids with methyl groups at C-10 and C-13 and a five-membered lactone at c-17. They form the aglycone part of cardiac glycosides and have at least one double bond in the molecule. Some of the more popular cardenolides in medical practice include digitoxin and ouabain. The cardenolides in C. gigentea include the following namely calotropin, calactin, urcharidin and frugoside. [7]

Risk management

In Malaysia, C. gigantea is grown in gardens of the Indian community for religious purposes. Children and household pets can be poisoned if the plant parts are being chewed or eaten. While cardiac glycoside poisoning is relatively rare, severe toxicity can lead to death. Life-threatening poisoning has been reported after ingestion of plant extracts and tea, use of contaminated herbal products, and deliberate ingestion of substantial quantities of plant parts by adults. [7]

Poisonous clinical findings

Human intoxications from this plant have not been reported in modern times. However, ingestion of calcium oxalates causes a painful burning sensation of the lips and mouth. There is an inflammatory often with edema and blistering. Hoarseness, dysphonia, and dysphagia may result. [6]

Poisoning would be expected to produce clinical findings typical of cardioactive steroids. Toxicity has a variable latent period that depends on the quantity ingested. Dysrhythmias include sinus bradycardia, premature ventricular contractions, atrioventricular conduction defects, or ventricular tachydysrhythmias. Hyperkalemia, if present, may be an indicator of toxicity. [6]


The pain and edema cause by calcium oxalate toxicity recede slowly without therapy. Cool liquids or demulcents held in the mouth may bring some relief. Analgesics may be indicated. [6]

The treatment of cardenolide poisoning is largely supportive, but special attention should be paid to potassium balance, since cardenolides inhibit Na/K-ATPase (the Na/K pump), inhibiting the influx of potassium into the cells; the severity of toxicity, and therefore the prognosis, is related to the degree of hyperkalaemia that results. Fab fragments of antidigitoxin antibody are effective not only in poisoning with digoxin but with other cardiac glycosides too. Repeated doses of activated charcoal (50g 4-hourly) reduced mortality in one study from 8.0% to 2.5%, probably encouraging the intestinal secretion of the toxic cardenolides. [8]

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of C. gigantea [3].


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Calotropis gigantea (L.) Dryand. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Nov 16]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 43-45.
  3. Kiew R. Calotropis gigantea (L.) Aiton f. In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 2001; p. 137.
  4. Gupta J, Ali M. Rare chemical constituents from Calotropis gigantea roots. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2000;62(1):29-32.
  5. Kumar G, Karthik L, Bhaskara Rao KV. Antibacterial activity of aqueous extract of Calotropis gigantea leaves- An in vitro study. Int J Pharm Sci Rev Res. 2010 Oct:4(2);141-144.
  6. Nelson LS, Shih RD, Balick MJ. Second edition: Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. Bronx, New York: The New York Botanical Garden, 2007; p. 102.
  7. Knight AP. A guide to poisonous house and garden plants. Colorado State University Fort Collins, p. 121–122.
  8. Gordon CC, Patrick M, Alimuddin Z. Manson’s tropical diseases. London: Saunders Elservier, 2009; p.608.