The fast-growing shrub, Calotropis procera, tolerates tough growing conditions
Calotropis procera, also referred to as giant milkweed, is a fast-growing shrub native to North Africa and southern Asia. Often considered a weed, the Calotropis is easily recognisable because of its upright stems, glaucous foliage and attractive purple flowers. However, because it produces poisonous latex that can cause serious skin irritation, the plant is rarely cultivated and is mainly found on abandoned farmland.
The Calotropis procera can reach three metres in height. The seeds – held in large pods – are compressed and contain a tuft of long, white, silky hair. Used either as a source of temporary shade in a new garden or permanently in very poor soils, the Calotropis is extremely tolerant of drought, wind and salt. It’s also useful for attracting wildlife into the garden, as it’s a food source for butterflies and bees.