Gardening » Common flora of UAE: Sodom’s Apple

Common flora of UAE: Sodom’s Apple

SodApp jpgScientific Name: Calotropis Procera

Vernacular Names: Sodom’s Apple, Ushar, Ashkhar

Grows in: May – July

Status:  Native. Local

 

Habitat 

In UAE, mainly in areas where there is run-off of rainwater or irrigation, such as farms, roadsides, sandy plains, low dunes and gravel plains of lower wadis. The plant favours open habitats with little competition, which explain why the species is dominant especially in heavily grazed habitats as livestock avoid eating it.

 

Sodom’s Apple is native to the Arabian Peninsula, West Africa as far south as Angola, North and East Africa, Madagascar, Southern Asia and Indo-China to Malaysia. The species was introduced and naturalised to Australia, many Pacific Islands, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean Islands.

 

Uses: Not edible and probably poisonous. Well known to many Bedouin who remember the shrub as the source of wood used in preparation of the best charcoal for the manufacture of black gunpowder. Leaves and latex are used for treating wounds, pain, scorpion stings and for strengthening muscles affected by paralysis.

 

Botanical Description

Growing as a spreading evergreen shrub or a small tree, up to 6m tall; milky white sap (latex) excreted when any part of the plant is broken. Old branches are hollow light grey-green in colour and covered in a fissured, corky bark, while young branches are smooth and whitish.

Leaves grow in opposite pairs along the simple stems with a pointed tip and heart-shaped base attached directly to the stem; gray green; round to ovoid up to 17cm to 25cm, covered with fine white woolly hairs when leaves are young, turning smooth when older.

 

Flowers

Waxy with five white pointed petals; dark purple at tips or blotches at the base of each of the five petals, and are grouped in clusters at the end of the branches, known as umbels.

 

Fruit

Shiny simple, fleshy fruit in a grey-green inflated pod, up to 8-13cm, split and invert when mature to release numerous brown flat seeds, with tufts of long silky hairs (pappus) at one end usually seen throughout the year but especially from March to January.

 

Uses

Although toxic is widely used in many traditional medicines.  

Root bark is febrifuge; depurative; expectorant, and laxative.

The powdered root promotes gastric secretions and is useful in treating asthma and bronchitis.

Leaves are useful in the treatment of paralysis, swelling and intermittent fevers. Flowers are useful in the treatment of asthma, inflammation and tumours.

It plays an important role in improving soil fertility and soil water holding capacity.

 

Known as

Apple Of Sodom, Ashkhar, Desert Apple, Giant Milkweed, Rubber Bush, Sodom Apple, Sodom's Milkweed.

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