This rather unusual tree is common in Africa, Asia and Indochina. It is said to have medicinal attributes, spiritual powers and useful elements for survive the hot, dry conditions its lives in.

Sodom Apple tree 1

The Sodom Apple or The Great Wick Tree is a wonderful and fascinating tree that can be found across the continents of Africa and Asia.  It usually resides in arid locations and has many  elements that help it survive in the dry conditions and protect itself from roaming animals.

"Calotropis procera" is its botanical name but it has received many different local names according to where it grows.  We call it the Sodom Apple Tree due to the fact that it is most prevelent in the Sodom (Sodom and Gammorah area) region at the Dead Sea district.  There are several references in the Bible to the tree and it has not only survived the thousands of years since its discovery but has supplied some helpful tools to the nomads of the desert regions and indeed to man in general.  

It is unique both in the form of a shrub and in its deceptive fruit - it looks edible, but inside it is full of fibers and seeds with beautiful tufts, which gave the plant its name The Great Wick Tree.  The trunk of the tree is coated with a thick, grooved bark, and beneath it a green layer. The bark is dry, brittle and grooved to enable the tree to keep cool in the extreme desert heat by layers of insulated air formed between the grooves. Although the leaves are unusual in size, they are coated with a thick layer of wax that prevents water from evaporating. The coating also protects the tissues in the leaves and its luster reflects the sun’s rays all contributing to a natural cooling system.  

The stems of this fruit bearing tree seep a milky and venomous resin and its function is to excrete toxins from the plant and protect against animals.  In some countries the sap the applied to cuts and grazes as it is said to enhance the healing process but only if is a carefully handled and applied as it can be dangerous to the heart.

The fruit of this tree is very unusual.  The large, green apple like fruit is actually hollow and inedible.  It is soft and puffy to the feel, and is filled with fine hairy fibres and seeds.  When the apple begins to wilt and cracks open, the fibres and seeds fly out and travel through the air to the final destination.  Here the seeds are sown for the next Sodom Apple tree to grow.  The nomads would take these fibres, roll them together and dip them in oil to be used as a candle at night time.  

The tree that appears to have very little purpose actually has proved to be of great use to mankind in several ways. 

Sodom Apple tree 3
Sodom Apple tree 5



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