Friday, April 16, 2010

Red Nongmangkha

Common name: Red Nongmangkha • Manipuri: নোঙমাঙখা অঙাঙবা Nongmangkha angangba 
Botanical name: Phlogacanthus pubinervius    Family: Acanthaceae (Ruellia family)

Red Nongmangkha is an evergreen shrub which is particularly showy in spring with its dense upright spikes of of brick-red, tubular flowers. The shrub grows up to 3 m tall, with 4-angled, grey branches, and drooping leaves. Leaves are inverted lance-shaped, 15-25 cm long, with a base gradually narrowing into the leaf-stalk. Flowers are braod-tubular, curved, 2-2.5 cm long, 2-lipped, with 5 nearly equal petals. Stamens protrude out of the flowers. Sepals are 6-8 mm long, bristly haired, bracts 6-12 mm long. Bracts are prominent when the flowers are in bud. Fruit is a cylindrical 4-angled capsule, to 4 cm long. Red Nongmangkha is found in forests, at altitudes of 200-1700 m, from U.P. to Burma. Flowering: February-March.

Indian Pennywort

Common name: Indian Pennywort, Coinwort, Asiatic coinwort, American coinwort, spadeleaf • Hindi: Brahma manduki ब्रह्म मंडुकी • Malayalam: Kodangal • Kannada: Vondelaga • Tamil: Vallarai • Assamese: Bor-mani-muni • Manipuri: পেৰূক Peruk •Telugu: Saraswataku • Bengali: Bora thulkari • Marathi: Karinga 
Botanical name: Centella asiatica       Family: Apiaceae (Carrot family)

Indian Pennywort is a small creeping herb with shovel shaped leaves emerging alternately in clusters at the stem nodes. The runners lie along the ground and the inch long leaves with their scalloped edges rise above on long reddish petioles. The insignificant greenish- to pinkish-white flowers are borne in dense umbels (clusters in which all the flower stalks arise from the same point) on separate stems in the summer. The seeds are pumpkin-shaped nutlets 0.1-0.2 in long. In India it is revered as a medicinal herb, and particularly in Manipur the full plant is eaten as food like a leafy vegetable. Indian Pennywort appears to have originated in the wetlands of Asia. China, India, and Malaya were probably within its original range. 
Medicinal uses: Indian Pennywort is revered as one of the great multi-purpose miracle herbs of Oriental medicine. It has been in use for thousands of years and has been employed to treat practically every ailment known to man at one time or place or another. The leaf and root extract has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for a long time but has become very popular in the past couple of years for both internal use as well as topical application - although the cosmetic application is relatively new. In Ayurvedic practice it also has a valuable and sought-after Vayasthapana effect - helping to retard the aging process.<>

Sabal palm

Common name: Sabal palm, palmetto palm, cabbage palm • Manipuri: কোনা Kona 
Botanical name: Sabal palmetto      Family: Arecaceae (Palm family)

Cabbage palm is a beautiful and versatile palm, is hence quite popular. It is recognized by its tan-gray, unbranched trunk, and large crown with fanlike leaves. The large leaves have a dull finish and are a medium green, sometimes yellow-green, in color depending on the individual and situation. Each leaf is up to 12 ft long overall including the spineless petioles (leaf stems) which measure about 5-6 ft in length. Leaves emerge directly from the trunk which is often covered with old leaf stem bases that are arranged in an interesting criss-cross pattern. Depending on the individual these may persist to the ground even in very old palms. Cabbage palm grows to a height of 10 - 25 m (32-82 feet), with a stem diameter of approximately 30 - 60 cm. In mid-summer the cabbage palm bears creamy white flowers on a long branched inflorescence that is held completely within the crown. Flowers are followed in late fall or early winter by black and fleshy spherical fruit that is about one third of an inch in diameter. 
Medicinal uses: Roots are cooling, restorative. Juice of plant is diuretic, stimulant, antiphlegmatic, useful in dropsy. Cabbage palm is native to the Americas.

Bird's Head Birthwort

Common name: Bird's Head Birthwort 
Botanical name: Aristolochia ornithocephala    Family: Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort family)

Bird's Head Birthwort is an climbing shrub with large alternate, long stalked leaves which are heart-shaped to kidney-shaped. Stipules are prominently leaf-like. The flowers are singly borne on stalks 8-10 inches long. The flower tube is divided into three parts. The lower pouch-like part contains the style and stamens. The tube is suddenly inflated in the upper quarter into the so-called bird's head. Two expansions are attached to the head which may be termed the beak and the lip. The lip is 6 x 4 inches. Bird's Head Birthwort is native to Brazil, but now cultivated widely. It flowers in the rainy season.
Identification credit: R.K. Nimai Singh

Kariyat, Creat

Common name: Kariyat, Creat • Hindi: Kirayat, Kalpanath • Manipuri: ৱুবতী Vubati •Marathi: Oli-kiryata, Kalpa • Tamil: நீலவெம்பு Nilavembu • Malayalam: Nelavepu, Kiriyattu • Telugu: Nilavembu • Kannada: Nelaberu • Bengali: কলমেঘ Kalmegh • Oriya: Bhuinimba • Konkani: Vhadlem Kiratyem • Urdu: Naine-havandi • Assamese: কলমেঘ Kalmegh • Gujarati: Kariyatu • Sanskrit: Kalmegha, Bhunimba • Mizo: Hnakhapui 
Botanical name: Andrographis paniculata    Family: Acanthaceae (Ruellia family)
Synonyms: Justicia paniculata 

Kariyat is an erect annual herb extremely bitter in taste in all parts of the plant. It grows erect to a height of 1-4 ft in moist shady places with smooth leaves and white flowers with rose-purple spots on the petals. Stem dark green, 0.3 - 1.0 m in height, 2-6 mm in diameter, quadrangular with longitudinal furrows and wings on the angles of the younger parts, slightly enlarged at the nodes; leaves glabrous, up to 8.0 cm long and 2.5 cm broad, lanceolate, pinnate; flowers small, in lax spreading axillary and terminal racemes or panicles; capsules linear-oblong, acute at both ends, 1.9 cm x 0.3 cm; seeds numerous, sub quadrate, yellowish brown. 
Medicinal uses: Since ancient times, Kariyat is used as a wonder drug in traditional Siddha and Ayurvedic systems of medicine as well as in tribal medicine in India and some other countries for multiple clinical applications. The therapeutic value of Kalmegh is due to its mechanism of action which is perhaps by enzyme induction. The plant extract exhibits antityphoid and antifungal activities.
Identification credit: Prashant Awale 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Air Plant

Common name: Air Plant, Donkey Ears, Life Plant, Leaf of Life, Resurrection Plant, Canterbury Bells, Cathedral Bells, Mexican Love Plant, Floppers • Hindi: Amar poi अमर पोई • Malayalam: Elamarunna • Tamil: Runakkalli • Bengali: Kop pata • Urdu: Zakhmhaiyat ज़ख़्महयात • Manipuri: , মনাহিদাক Manahidak 
Botanical name: Kalanchoe pinnata    Family: Crassulaceae (sedum family)
Synonyms: Cotyledon pinnata, Bryophyllum pinnatum

Native Hawaiian plant. Easy to grow just from one leaf set on top of moist soil. Very fast growing, drought tolerant small shrub. Tolerates almost any conditions. Spectacular bloomer. Air Plant grows to about 3-6 feet tall. The erect, thick, succulent stems bear large, fleshy leaves, each with 3 or 5 oval leaflets with round-toothed edges. Young plantlets develop along the margins of the mature leaves. The attractive, drooping blooms are borne on large panicles. The flowers have purple or yellowish-white tinged calyxes and reddish corollas. Kalanchoe is a genus of about 125 species of tropical, succulent flowering plants in the Family Crassulaceae, mainly native to the Old World but with a few species in the New World. These plants are cultivated as ornamental houseplants and rock or "cactus" garden plants. They are popular because of their ease of propagation, low water requirements, and wide variety of flower colors typically borne in clusters well above the vegetative growth. The "Air plant" Kalanchoe pinnata is a curiosity because new individuals develop vegetatively at indents along the leaf, usually after the leaf has broken off the plant and is laying on the ground, where the new plant can take root. 
Medicinal uses: Bahamians call it Life Leaf or Ploppers. In the Bahamas it is mostly used for Asthma or shortness in breath.

African tulip tree

Common name: African tulip tree, Fountaintree • Hindi: Rugtoora रगतूरा• Tamil: Patadi •Bengali: Rudrapalash 
Botanical name: Spathodea campanulata      Family: Bignoniaceae (Jacaranda family)

One of the world's most spectacular flowering trees, African tulip tree is a large upright tree with glossy deep green pinnate leaves and glorious orange scarlet flowers. It may grow to 80 ft on an ideal site, but most specimens are much smaller. The tree has a stout, tapering, somewhat buttressed trunk covered in warty light gray bark. The lateral branches are short and thick. The 1-2 ft long opposite leaves, which emerge a bronzy color, are massed at the ends of the branches. They are composed of 5-19 deeply veined oval leaflets. The horn shaped velvety olive buds appear in upturned whorls at the branch tips. A few at a time, the buds of the lowest tier bend outward and open into big crinkled red orange tuliplike bells with red streaked gold throats, frilly yellow edges, and four brown-anthered stamens in the center. They are followed by 5-10 in green brown fingerlike pods pointing upwards and outwards above the foliage. Each of these pods contains about 500 tissue papery seeds. The tree flowers in spurts all through the growing season, but peak bloom is usually in the spring.