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CALOTROPIS gigantea

Image of Calotropis gigantea

James H. Schutte

Family

Asclepiadaceae

Botanical Name

CALOTROPIS gigantea

Plant Common Name

Crown Flower

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Woolly stems and leaves of the crown flower attract attention year round, but extra visual delight occurs when stem tips bear a cluster of lavender flowers. A spreading evergreen succulent shrub, it is native to dry woodlands across southeastern Asia, from India to Indonesia. Traditionally, crown flower's stem bark is used as medicine, the leaves as a wound poultice and plant juices as a yellow dye.

The large oval leaves emerge very fuzzy and almost silvery white. As they mature, the leaf becomes more gray-green with contrasting light yellow veins. Young stems are also densely covered in hairs, but fail away on older branches that develop a smooth, tan surface. Snap a leaf or stem and white milky latex bleeds out. Crown flower blooms intermittently anytime the weather is warm and sunshine abundant. Each pale violet to lavender blossom is wheel-shaped, with the five petals opening wide. Blossom petals curve backward to create the look of a miniature royalty crown; even the flower centers look crown-like. Butterflies, including monarchs, frequent the blossoms and their caterpillars feed on the crown flower's leaves.

Grow crown flower in any gritty, well-drained soil in abundant sunshine. It excels in frost-free, arid regions as well as in tropical areas with wet and dry seasons. Sandy soils ensure rainy weather doesn't rot the roots. It tolerates salt spray and high humidity. Use it in a mixed border nestled among other arid succulents or cacti. It also grows well in a large container. In windy areas expect this plant to flop over and continue to grow its sprawling stems upright. Prune it back hard in early spring (or at the start of the tropical dry season) to rejuvenate with more stems and a bushier habit.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 13, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    6'-25' / 1.8m - 7.6m (15)

  • Width

    8'-30' / 2.4m - 9.1m (10)

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia, India, China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Spreading

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Lavender

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No