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Apple of Sodom

Oil painting, 18″ wide x 24″ tall plus 3/4″ wide frame.  Painted for my Pretty Weeds art show, which will run May through July 2024 at Sociable Cider Werks.

Label text:

Apple of Sodom

Flower size: up to 1 inch in diameter

Scientific name: Calotropis procera

Other common names: roostertree, calotrope, small crownflower, king’s crown, Dead Sea apple, Sodom apple,

Native to Africa, Madagascar, Arabian Peninsula, Southern Asia, and Indochina

Invasive in South America, Australia, Mexico

A type of milkweed, this plant has traditional medicinal and fibre uses in Israel and South Africa. Roman Jewish historian Josephus, who saw it growing near what he calls Sodom, near the Dead Sea, wrote: “Their fruits…have a color as if they were fit to be eaten, but if you pluck them with your hands, they dissolve into smoke and ashes.”

Some biblical commentators believe that the Sodom apple may have been the poisonous gourd (or poison-tasting gourd) that led to “death in the pot” in the Old Testament, 2 Kings 4:38-41.

On the other hand, some scientists say that “It is a multipurpose plant, which can be utilized for medicine, fodder, and fuel purposes, timber and fiber production, phytoremediation, and synthesis of nanoparticles.”

from “An Overview of the Characteristics and Potential of Calotropis procera From Botanical, Ecological, and Economic Perspectives” by A. Kaur, D. Batish, S. Kaur and B. Chauhan in Frontiers in Plant Science


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