Aak is known as “Arka” in Sanskrit. When we talk about the medicinal properties of this herb, it is mostly addressed with the name of Arka. Aak is a common Hindi name given to this plant which is familiar to the Indians as a perennial bush growing almost anywhere in the wild.
In India, the plant is common in the compounds of temples and is known as Madar in Hindi: मदार. Its leaf (Marathi: rui) is one of the five leaves used in the Panch Pallava, a ritual assortment of five different leaves used as a totem by the Maratha culture in India.
Arka is a perennial shrub growing 2.5 meter high with various branches and sub branches. Leaves are simple, opposite, subsessile, ovate and cordate at base. It has bunch of waxy flowers that are white or lavender in color. Flowers consists of pointed five petals and a small beautiful crown, which holds the stamen. It has milky stem and contains cardiac glycosides, fatty acid and calcium oxalate.
Calotropis is a poisonous plant. The active principles are uscharin, calotoxin, calactin, and calotropin. The leaves and stem when incised yield thick milky juice. It is used as an arrow poison, cattle poison, rarely for suicide and homicide and mostly an accidental poison.
- English name – Sodom apple, Apple of Sodom, Kapok tree, Rubber bush or Rubber tree.
- Hindi name – Aak, Madar, Akvana
- Sanskrit name – Arka, Toolaphala, Vikirana, Asfota, Alarka etc.
- Punjabi name – Ak
- Telugu name – Jilledu, Mandaram
- Bengali name – Aaknad
- Arab name – Ushar
- Persian name – Kharak
- Malyalam – Neela Eukku