Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Calotropis procera
(Aiton) W.T.Aiton, Apocynaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results: 

Reject, score: 8 (Go to the risk assessment (Australia))
High risk, score: 15 (Go to the risk assessment (Pacific))

Other Latin names:  Asclepias procera Aiton

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: bai hua niu jiao gua

English: akund, apple of Sodom, auricula-tree, cabbagetree, calotrope, camelweed, French cotton, giant milkweed, kapoktree, madar, mudar, Prince-of-Wales crown, roostertree, rubber bush, rubbertree, small crownflower, Sodom apple, Sodom's milkweed, swallowwort

French: arbre à soie, arbre de soie, bois canon, calotrope

Spanish: algodón de seda, bomba, calotropis

Habit:  shrub/tree

Description:  "A large shrub or small tree of 2-4 m height, with a white latex and smooth, grey-green stems and a thick, soft bark.  The plant has a deep taproot of 3-4 m length.  The simple and opposite leaves are 8-25 cm long, 4-14 cm wide, ovate, thick and waxy.  They have a short pointed tip at the end and a heart-shaped base partly clasping the stem.  The white and purple flowers have five lobes, are more or less tubular, and 2-3 cm in diameter.  Fruits are grey-green, fleshy or dry capsules of 8-12 cm length and 6-8 cm width.  They contain numerous small, brown and flattened seeds of 8-10 mm length and c. 5 mm wideth, with long white hairs attached at one end"  (Weber, 2003; p. 80).

"Shrubs, mostly less than 6 ft., but up to 15 ft.; similar to C. gigantea, but leaves oblong to elliptic, corolla usually about 1 in. across with lobes more erect, corona lobes glabrous or pubescent, and follicle 4-5 in. long"  (Bailey and Bailey, 1976; p. 206).

Habitat/ecology:  "Giant milkweed favors open habitat with little competition. This condition is most completely met in overgrazed pastures and rangeland. Other common habitats are beachfront dunes, roadsides, and disturbed urban lots. The species grows in dry habitat (150 to 1000 mm precipitation) and sometimes in excessively drained soils in areas with as much as 2000 mm of annual precipitation. Giant milkweed may be found in areas up to 1,000 m in elevation in India (Parrotta 2001). It roots very deeply and rarely grows in soils that are shallow over unfractured rock. Soils of all textures and derived from most parent materials are tolerated, as well as soils with high sodium saturation. Beachfront salt spray is not detrimental. Competition with tall weeds, brush, and especially grass weakens existing plants, and being overtopped and shaded by trees soon eliminates them"  (Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories).

In Australia, "Found on roadsides, disturbed areas, watercourses, river flats and coastal dunes.  Thrives on poor soils particularly where overgrazing has removed competition from native grasses. It forms dense thickets which compete with native plant species and transforms the appearance of the savanna. Also hinders pastoralism by degrading pasture lands and making mustering difficult."  (Smith, 2002; pp. 28-29).

Propagation:  "Seeds spread by wind and water over large distances.  Local stands increased in size by suckering."  (Smith, 2002; pp. 28-29).

Native range:  "Giant milkweed is native to West Africa as far south as Angola, North and East Africa, Madagascar, the Arabian Peninsula, southern Asia, and Indochina to Malaysia (Rahman and Wilcock 1991)"  (Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 238)
Cultivated, possible escapes.
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island introduced
invasive
Parker, James L./Parsons, Bobby (2012) (pp. 56-57)
Voucher cited: J. Parker & R. Parsons, J. Franklin BIED97 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaho‘olawe Island introduced
invasive
Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim (2012) (p. 87)
Vouchers cited: Starr 101228-1 (BISH), Starr 101229-1 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim/Loope, Lloyd L. (2004) (p. 20)
Misidentified as Calotropis gigantea. Voucher cited: Starr & Starr 020226-3 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
Wood, K. R. (2006) (pp. 15-16)
Voucher cited: K.R. Wood 11614 (PTBG)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim (2012) (p. 87)
Voucher cited: Starr & Starr 020226-3 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Lāna‘i Island introduced
invasive
Oppenheimer, Hank (2008) (p. 23)
Voucher cited: Oppenheimer, Perlman & Tangalin H10705 (BISH, PTBG)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Ni‘ihau, Lehua Islet introduced
invasive
Wood, K. R./LeGrande, Maya (2006) (p. 19)
Vouchers cited: K.R. Wood 11345 (BISH, PTBG, US), K.R. Wood 11533 (BISH, PTBG)
Two plants seen.
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim/Loope, Lloyd L. (2003) (p. 25)
Misidentified as Calotropis gigantea. Vouchers cited: (East Maui) Starr & Martz 010309-1 (BISH), Starr & Martz 010503-2 (BISH); (West Maui) Starr & Martz 010701-1 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim (2012) (p. 87)
Vouchers cited: (East Maui) Starr & Martz 010503-2 (BISH); (West Maui) Starr & Martz 010701-1 (BISH)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Northern Territory introduced
invasive
Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. (1998) (p. 147)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Smith, Nicholas M. (2002) (pp. 28-29)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Cultivated for medicine in S. Guangdong, Guangxi, S. Yunnan.
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica (Republic of) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador (Republic of) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala (Republic of) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Honduras
Honduras
Honduras (Republic of) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua (Republic of) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Panama
Panama
Panama (Republic of) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Thailand
Thailand
Thailand (Kingdom of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (California) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam (Socialist Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Frégate Island   Robertson, S. A./Todd, D. M. (1983) (p. 46)
Voucher cited: Robertson 2731

Comments:  Reported as escaped from cultivation in Hawai‘i (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 238). A declared noxious weed in Western Australia and the Northern Territory (Smith, 2002; pp. 28-29).

Control: 

Physical:  "Manual removal should aim at removing as much of the taproot and lateral roots as possible to prevent resprouting".

Chemical:  "Actively growing seedlings and larger plants can be treated with a mixture of 2,4-D and picloram.  In the case of mature plants, herbicides may also be applied to the basal bark"  (Weber, 2003; p. 81).

Additional information:
Fact sheet from the Government of Queensland, Australia. (PDF format).
Fact sheet from "Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories: thamnic descriptions" (PDF format).
Information from the World Agroforestry Centre's AgroForestryTree Database.

Additional online information about Calotropis procera is available from the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR).

Information about Calotropis procera as a weed (worldwide references) may be available from the Global Compendium of Weeds (GCW).

Taxonomic information about Calotropis procera may be available from the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).

References:

Australian National Botanic Gardens. 2013. Australian plant common name database. Online resource.

Bailey, L. H./Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third: A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. Macmillan, New York. 1290 pp.

Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. 1998. Potential environmental weeds in Australia: Candidate species for preventative control. Canberra, Australia. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. 208 pp.

Francis, John K., ed. 2009. Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions General Technical Report IITF-WB-1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry and Shrub Sciences Laboratory (online resource).

Kleinschmidt, H. E./Johnson, R. W. 1977. Weeds of Queensland. Govt. Printer. 469 p.

Nicholson, D. H. 1991. Flora of Dominica, part 2: Dicotyledoneae. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 77.

Oppenheimer, Hank. 2008. New Hawaiian plant records for 2007. In: Evenhuis, Neal L. and Eldredge, Lucias G., eds. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2007. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 100:22-38.

Parker, James L./Parsons, Bobby. 2012. New plant records from the Big Island for 2009. In: Evenhuis, Neal L. and Eldredge, Lucius G., eds. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2011. Part II: Plants. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers. 113:55-63.

Robertson, S. A./Todd, D. M. 1983. Vegetation of Frégate Island, Seychelles. In: Sachet, M. H., D. R. Stoddart, and F. R. Fosberg. Floristics and ecology of Western Indian Ocean islands. Atoll Research Bulletin No. 273. Smithsonian Institution, Washington. 253 pp.

Smith, Nicholas M. 2002. Weeds of the wet/dry tropics of Australia - a field guide. Environment Centre NT, Inc. 112 pp.

Staples, George W./Herbst, Derral/Imada, Clyde T. 2000. Survey of invasive or potentially invasive cultivated plants in Hawai‘i. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers No. 65. 35 pp.

Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim. 2012. New plant records from Maui and Kaho‘olawe. In: Evenhuis, Neal L. and Eldredge, Lucius G., eds. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2011. Part II: Plants. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers. 113:87-90.

Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim/Loope, Lloyd L. 2003. New plant records from the Hawaiian Archipelago. In: Evenhuis, Neal L. and Eldredge, Lucius G., eds. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2001-2002. Part 2: Notes. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers. 74:23-34.

Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim/Loope, Lloyd L. 2004. New plant records from the Hawaiian Archipelago. In: Evenhuis, Neal L. and Eldredge, Lucius G., eds. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2003. Part 2: Notes. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers. 79:20-30.

U. S. Government. 2013. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (on-line resource).

U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. 2013. National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online searchable database.

Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Revised edition. Bernice P. Bishop Museum special publication. University of Hawai‘i Press/Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 1919 pp. (two volumes).

Weber, Ewald. 2003. Invasive plants of the World. CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 548 pp.

Wood, K. R. 2006. New plant records and rediscoveries within the Hawaiian Islands. In: Evenhuis, Neal L. and Eldredge, Lucias G., eds. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2004-2005. Part 2: Notes. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 88:15-19.

Wood, K. R./LeGrande, Maya. 2006. An annotated checklist and new island records of flowering plants from Lehua Islet, Ni‘ihau, Hawai‘i. In: Evenhuis, Neal L. and Eldredge, Lucias G., eds. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2004-2005. Part 1: Articles. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 87:19-29.

Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong. 2013. Flora of China (online resource).


Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (pier@hear.org)

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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 16 JAN 2011.