Facts about Apple of Sodom

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Facts about Apple of Sodom

Apple of Sodom Quick Facts
Name: Apple of Sodom
Scientific Name: Calotropis procera
Origin North Africa, Tropical Africa, Western Asia, South Asia, and Indochina
Shapes Inflated, sub-globose, ellipsoid or ovoid, recurved follicle, 7.5-10.0 cm.
Taste Bitter, salty, Astringent
Health benefits Cure of leprosy and elephantiasis, asthma and catarrh, treats whooping cough, dysentery, headache, lice treatment, jaundice, sore gums and mouth
Calotropis procera commonly known as Apple of Sodom is a species of flowering plant in the Milkweed family, Asclepiadaceae that is native to West Africa as far south as Angola, North and East Africa, Madagascar, the Arabian Peninsula, southern Asia, and Indochina to Malaysia. The species is now naturalized in Australia, many Pacific islands, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean islands. Other common names of the herb include Sodom apple, stabragh, kapok tree, king’s crown, rubber bush, or rubber tree, Calotropis, auricula tree, cabbage tree, calotrope, camel tree, Dead Sea fruit, desert wick, French cotton, giant milkweed, Indian milkweed, mudar fiber, mudar plant, rooster tree, Sodom’s milkweed and swallow-wort. Genus name comes from the Greek words kalos meaning beautiful and tropos meaning boat in reference to the flowers. Specific epithet from Latin means tall. Sodom’s apple milkweed exudes a milky white sap (latex) when the plant is cut or broken, which although toxic is widely used in many traditional medicines.

Plant Description

Apple of Sodom is an erect, flowering shrub or small tree that grows about 2-5 m (max. 6) tall that is found growing in beachfront dunes, roadsides, watercourses, disturbed urban areas as well as on semi-arid conditions on deep, sandy soils, rubbish heaps, cultivated and fallow land and waste places. The plant grows well on the sandy calcareous soils of coastal areas. Giant milkweed has a very deep, stout taproot with few or no near-surface lateral roots. Giant milkweed roots were found to have few branches and reach depths of 1.7 to 3.0 m in Indian sandy desert soils. Stem is round, usually simple (rarely branched), pale green, thickly covered with hoary pubescence which readily rubs off. The bark is corky, furrowed, and light gray. It appears in irregular short pieces, slightly quilled or curved and about 0.3 – 0.5 cm thick. The external portion is grayish-yellow, soft and spongy. The internal portion is yellowish-white. The fracture is short. A copious white sap flows whenever stems or leaves are cut.


Opposite leaves are oblong obovate to nearly orbicular, short-pointed to blunt at the apex and have very short petioles below a nearly clasping, heart-shaped base. The leaf blades are light to dark green with nearly white veins. They are 7 to 18 cm long and 5 to 13 cm broad, slightly leathery, and have a fine coat of soft hairs that rub off.

Flower & Fruit

The fragrant flowers are 2.5 cm in diameter and form umbel-like flower clusters. The erect petals are whitish and have purple spots on the upper half. The bracts of the corolla are smooth or downy with a divided tip.  Fruit is inflated, sub-globose, ellipsoid or ovoid, recurved follicle 7.5 to 10 cm long by 5 to 7.5 cm wide that split and invert when mature to release light-brown, broadly ovate, flattened, 3.2 cm with a tuft of white hairs at one end.  A white milky sap is exuded from any wound on the plant.

Traditional uses and benefits of Apple of Sodom

  • Roots are poisonous and used for treating snakebites.
  • Latex is used against ringworm and as laxative.
  • An infusion of bark powder is used in the treatment and cure of leprosy and elephantiasis.
  • Extremely poisonous roots are used in the treatment of snakebites.
  • Leaves are used for the treatment of asthma.
  • Milky sap is used as a rubefacient and is also strongly purgative and caustic.
  • Latex is used for treating ringworm, guinea worm blisters, scorpion stings, venereal sores and ophthalmic disorders.
  • Its use in India in the treatment of skin diseases has caused severe bullous dermatitis leading sometimes to hypertrophic scars.
  • Local effect of the latex on the conjunctiva is congestion, epiphora and local anesthesia.
  • Flower is used in the treatment of asthma and catarrh.
  • Twigs are applied for the preparation of diuretics, stomach tonic and anti-diarrhoetics and for asthma.
  • It is also used in abortion, as an anthelmintic, for colic, cough, whooping cough, dysentery, headache, lice treatment, jaundice, sore gums and mouth, toothache, sterility, swellings and ulcers.
  • Latex of the plant is processed and used in the treatment of paralysis, vertigo, swelling in the joints, baldness, rheumatoid problems, hair loss issues, intermittent fever and tooth aches.
  • Powdered root used in asthma, bronchitis, and dyspepsia.
  • Root bark is also used for cure elephantiasis in south India.
  • Juice is taken by women that work as an abortifacient to induce abortion.
  • Powdered leaves are used for the fast healing of wounds.
  • Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia of India recommends the use of the root and leaf of this plant in Asthma and shortness of breath.
  • Stem bark is recommended in liver and spleen diseases.
  • Hot poultice are made from the leaves and applied to the joints to relieve pain and inflammation in arthritis and other joint disorders.
  • Calotropis root bark and flowers used in cough and asthma and effective in treating respiratory disorders.
  • Researches have shown that Ark has the potential to be used as anticancer, anticoagulant and anti-fungal agent.
  • Leaves of Arka with salt are used as very effective herbal combinations for gastritis.
  • Juice squeezed from fresh leaves is used to treat bite wounds in rural areas (dog bites, scorpion Ascites: Apply the latex of Sodom stings etc.)
  • Mixture of its latex, turmeric and sesame oil is useful in treating scabies.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Apple of Sodom

  • Ascites: Apply the latex of Sodom locally on the affected areas.
  • Leprosy: Use the latex of Sodom plant on the affected skin.
  • Leucoderma: Apply the latex of Sodom on the skin patches.
  • Ringworms: Apply the milky fluid of Sodom plant over infected skin.
  • Stings: Locally apply the milk fluid of Sodom plant on the damaged skin.
  • Deafness: Take a ripe yellow leaf of Sodom. Warm it. Squeeze the leaf juice drops in ears. Use it for 2 weeks.
  • Caries: Apply the latex of Sodom on the affected teeth.
  • Gastroenteritis: Roast the leaves of Sodom and apply locally.
  • Swelling: Apply the roasted leaves of Sodom over the affected area.
  • Headache: Warm the leaves of Sodom. Tie it with cotton cloth on the forehead.
  • Antidote: Chew the leaves of Sodom once a day. OR Crush roots of Sodom and apply it over bitten area.
  • Fever: Mix equal quantity leaf juice of Sodom with honey. Take 1 tsp of it repeatedly after 1 hour.
  • Aphthous Ulcers: Add 1 tsp honey in same quantity latex of Sodom. Apply it over affected areas.
  • Ascaris: Consume mixture of Sodom leaf juice and honey twice a day.
  • Dental Diseases: Externally apply latex of Sodom plant over dental problems.
  • Analgesic: Apply latex of Sodom over painful areas.
  • Tumor: Consume 3 ml root extract of Sodom. Have it once a day.
  • Diabetes: Consume 1 g dry latex of Sodom twice a week.
  • Liver diseases: Take some leaves and flowers of Sodom. Make its decoction. Have 10 ml of it twice a day.
  • Abscess: Mix the latex of Sodom with turmeric powder to make a paste. Apply it over the affected areas.
  • Abscess: Soak few carom seeds in the latex of Sodom overnight. Roast the soaked seeds over flame. Grind them to make a fine powder. Mix 1 tsp of the powder with yogurt. Apply it on the damaged skin.
  • Acne: Mix some carom seeds with the milky sap of Sodom. Leave it overnight. Roast the soaked seeds and grind them. Mix 1 tsp of the powder with yogurt. Apply it on the affected areas.
  • Asthma: Take equal amount of Sodom flowers, cloves and black pepper. Grind them together. Mix a pinch of this mixture with Luke warm water. Drink this water once a day. (Do not use in excess as it may cause diarrhea and vomiting.)
  • Bronchitis: Grind the root bark of Sodom. Mix it with date palm sugar. Take a pinch of it during bedtime with warm milk. (Excess use may cause Diarrhea.)
  • Cold: Mix date palm sugar with Sodom root bark powder. Take 2 pinch of it with warm milk at night.
  • Cough: Take root bark of Sodom. Grind it to make powder. Add date palm sugar in it. Take quarter tsp of the mixture with warm milk during bedtime. Use it once a day.
  • Fatigue: Take mixture of date palm sugar and Sodom root bark powder during bed time. (Excess use may cause vomiting.)
  • Insect bites: Make a mixture of Sodom root bark powder and date palm sugar by taking them in equal ratio. Take ¼ tsp with warm milk at night. Use it for 4 days.
  • Leprosy: Take root bark powder of Sodom. Add same quantity of date pam sugar in it. Take a pinch of it with warm milk after dinner. (Do not use repeatedly as it may cause diarrhea.)
  • Cholera: Grind the root and bark of Sodom to make a fine powder. Add some ginger juice and black pepper. Mix properly to make a thick paste. Make pea sized pills of it. Make a decoction of Cardamom and mint leaves. Take 1 pill with the decoction after every 2 hours. Use it for 5 days.
  • Cold: Take boiled rice in a cup. Add 5 ml Sodom latex. Put it under sun to dry for 1 week. Repeat the whole process by adding 15 ml latex. Grind to make a powder. Add some camphor powder in it. Use it as snuff.
  • Cough: Add 1 tsp milky sap of Sodom in 1 cup boiled rice. Dry it under sun for 7 days. Now again add 3 tsp latex in it and dry again. Grind to make powder. Add camphor powder in it and use as snuff.
  • Colic: Take 4 g of Sodom flower, black salt and carom seeds. Add 8 g dried ginger in it. Grind them to make powder. Make a thick paste by adding lime juice in it. Make small pills of equal size with it. Take 1 pill per day with warm water.
  • Stomach ache: Grind 1 tsp of Sodom flower, black salt, carom seeds and 2 tsp of dried ginger to make powder. Make dough like consistency by adding lime juice in it. Make pills of it. Have one pill per day with warm water.
  • Earache: Extract the juice of ripe yellow leaves of Sodom. Take quarter tsp of it and add same amount of sesame oil. Now add quarter tsp of sweet flag powder, cinnamon, garlic and 2 tsp of Asafoetida powder. Boil the mixture until it gets thick. Filter it through a piece of cloth. Cool it and use as ear drops.
  • Ear Discharge: Mix 3 grams each of Sodom leaves juice, sesame oil, powder of Sweet flag, Cinnamon and garlic. Add 12 g Asafoetida powder in it. Boil until it gets thick. Filter through a piece of cloth. Cool it and use as an ear drops.
  • Headache: Take 500 ml of sesame oil. Add two tbsp of Sodom flower juice, turmeric powder, garlic paste, black pepper powder each. Boil over a low flame till it thickens. Cool it and put it in a bottle. Take 3-4 tbsp of oil and massage the scalp with it. Use it thrice a week.
  • Asthma: Take equal amount of Emetic nut, Sodom root, Licorice. Grind them together. Have 2 pinches once a day with water.
  • Cold: Take emetic nuts, liquorice, Sodom in equal amount. Powder them together. Have one pinch once a day. It gives relief in cold conditions.
  • Bronchitis: Mix dried Sodom flowers, black pepper and clove in 4:2:1 ratio. Grind them to make a powder. Consume 3 g of it with lukewarm water.
  • Earache: Take 125 gm. juice of Datura Stramonium leaves and same amount of sesame oil. Mix well. Boil in a tin vessel for 5 to 10 minutes on medium flame till the juice remains half. Add 5-6 leaves of Sodom and a pinch of salt in it. Boil till it gets a thick consistency. Strain and let it cool. Put 2 to 3 drops of this solution in the affected areas twice a day.
  • Asthma: Take Ziziphus Xylopyrus roots, Sodom stem bark, Erythroxylum monogynum stem bark, Indian Kino stem bark and 10 dry Cayenne peppers. Grind them all to make a fine powder. Consume quarter tsp of each of the herb powder for 3 days with 1 liter of water once a day.

Culinary Uses

  • Flower shoots are eaten young and raw.
  • Leaves are occasionally eaten.
  • Leaves are used for making an alcoholic drink.
  • Sap is added to milk to help it coagulate in Ethiopia.
  • Leaves have been used as a soup ingredient in sauces.

Other facts

  • Seed capsules, on the other hand, are used as stuffing material in mattresses.
  • Stems are further produce good charcoal and are termite resistant.
  • Mudar Gummi, a rubber material, is also obtained from Auricula tree.
  • Plant can help improve soil water conditions and also acts as a soil binder.
  • White, silky, strong, cylindrical, flexible and durable stem fiber used for various purposes, such as for making ropes, to form cheap cots, gunny bags, bow strings, fishing nets, and in the manufacture of paper, pulp and duplicating stencils.
  • Strong inner bark fibers produce a binding material and are processed into fabrics.
  • The floss from the seeds, which is about 2 – 3.5 cm long, white silky and strong, is used as an inferior stuffing for mattresses and pillows as well as for weaving into a strong cloth.
  • Floss may also substitute cotton wool for surgical purposes.
  • Plant is the source of a rubber-like product called Mudar Gummi.
  • Liquid latex can be used as a renewable source of hydrocarbons and intermediate energy resources.
  • Leafy branches are said to deter ants.
  • Macerated bark extract can be used for dyes.
  • Stems are termite proof and are used for roofing and building huts.
  • Very light wood can also be used for fishing net floats.
  • Wood is a source of charcoal, used for making gunpowder.
  • Stems produce a good charcoal, while the stem pith makes good tinder.
  • Plant is occasionally grown as an ornamental in dry or coastal areas because it is handsome, of a convenient size, and is easy to propagate and manage.
  • Sheep, goats, and camels will eat the leaves of giant milkweed during droughts, but consumption is low.
  • If the leaves are chopped and mixed with other feed, consumption greatly increases with no ill effects.
  • Fermented mixture of Calotropis and salt is used to remove the hair from goat skins for production of “nari leather” and of sheep skins to make leather which is much used for inexpensive book-binding.
  • Apple of Sodom produces approximately 300 berries per plant with 50 seeds per berry resulting in 1,500 seeds per plant.
  • Latex has been used as a hunting poison and fish poison, and sometimes used for criminal purposes, often in combination with Strophanthus spp.
  • Decoction of the bark or the latex or the ash from the stem is used in veterinary medicine for treating parasitic skin diseases and scabies in cattle, camels and goats.
  • Stem bark is considered to stimulate lactation in cattle.
  • Nectar of the flowers is considered toxic, and gives honey a bad taste. Beekeepers therefore often cut the plants nearby hives.


  • Juice of the plant is poisonous it has been used as an infanticide in Africa.
  • Both the bark and the latex are widely used as arrow and spear poisons.
  • Latex is cardio toxic with the active ingredient being calotropin.
  • All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.
  • Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.
  • Consult a doctor before using.
  • Avoid use during pregnancy and breast feeding.
  • Latex is toxic and can cause rash, blisters and serious inflammations in sensitive persons and it may lead to blindness.
  • Ingesting larger doses of latex produce toxic symptoms like burning in the throat, irritation of the stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, vertigo and convulsions.
  • Very high dosages may cause death.
  • It should not be given to small children.


















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