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Asclepias gigantea/Calotropis gigantea (Asclepias Tropical Giant)

Life: Perennial

Size: 8-10'

Light: Full Sun

Water: Average

Soil: Loamy

In the Asclepias family, but correctly classified as Calotropis gigantea. A surprising member of the milkweed family, the first time you encounter it may be in a Hawaiian lei. The flowers are white, lavender, blue, or pink, and have a little "crown" in the center composed of five downward-pointing, twisted petals that resemble a miniature royal crown. They are produced in bunches among the leaves, which are light green and fuzzy on both sides. When fully grown, each small tree or large bush can support hundreds of Monarch butterflies as the adults sip nectar from the flowers and the caterpillars eat the leaves. Don't worry about the caterpillars, as the plant will quickly regrow whatever they eat and more, but do protect it from the cold. It is not frost-hardy at all and must be planted in a large pot and kept indoors during winter. Like all milkweeds, the sticky sap is poisonous and can irritate skin.