Sunday, September 30, 2012

Calotropis gigantea (Crown flower) a possible cure for cervical cancer

Calotropis gigantea (Crown flower) is a species of Calotropis native to Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and China. It is a large shrub growing to 4 m tall. It has clusters of waxy flowers that are either white or lavender in colour. Each flower consists of five pointed petals and a small, elegant "crown" rising from the centre, which holds the stamens. The plant has oval, light green leaves and milky stem.

The flowers last long, and in Thailand they are used in various floral arrangements. They were also supposed to be popular with the Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani, who considered them as symbol of royalty and wore them strung into leis. In India, the plant is common in the compounds of temples and is known as Madar.While in Cambodia, they are used in funerals to decorate the urn or sarcophagus and the interior of the house holding the funeral. The fruit is a follicle and when dry, seed dispersal is by wind. This plant plays host to a variety of insects and butterflies. In Indonesia its flowers is called widuri.

Calotropis is an example of entomophily pollination (pollination by insects) and pollination is achieved with the help of bees. In Calotropis, gynostegium is present (formed by the fusion of stigma and androecium). The pollen are arranged in a structure named Pollinia which are attached to a glandular, adhesive disc at the stigmatic angle (Translator Mechanism). These sticky discs get attached to the legs of visiting bees so that pollinia are pulled out when the bee moves away. When such a bee visits another flower, this flower gets pollinated by the sticky pollinia.

This plant has been used by several women in some parts of Papua New Guinea to threat cervical cancer as a traditional remedy. It really worked wonders for so many Papua New Guinean women who have used this plant. However, medically; the contents and composition of the minerals, nutrients, fibers, etc.., of the plant has not been listed and as well as the methods used. Therefore, it's a new and challenging avenue for vigorous research and further testing. For interested parties/organizations/schools/hospitals, etc...around the world who wish to carry out some research on this plant in Papua New Guinea, do not hesitate to contact me via the this blog.