My (ever-so-highly criticized) habit of wandering off into untrodden wilderness treks often leads me to some marvelous beauties of Nature. Tomorrow (28 July) is World Nature Conservation Day. So today I’m sharing some snaps of the Nature’s beauties that I’ve come across in my various treks. Some are medicinal plants, some are just lookalikes, but all are beautiful in their own ways.
Our trail starts off with an anonymous creeper, that couldn’t find a route up a tree, but is so splendidly standing out above the crowd, even at ground level.
A local claimed that it is a variety of Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia Linn.), which is known as ‘Amrita’ (Nectar of immortality) for its varied medicinal properties, but I largely doubt his identification.
Then comes the botanical wonder of Parnabeej (Bryophyllum pinnatum). This plant has an amazing feature of holding spores in the margins of its modified leaves. So you can literally take a leaf out of its good looks and plant it to make a new tree! Amazing Nature, isn’t it? However, what biological purpose those beautiful pods that are visible in the photo serve, is an uninvestigated mystery to me yet.
Next come the beautiful violet blooms of Sahadevi (Vernonia cineria).
Known as one of the ultimate antipyretics in Ayurveda, I fancy if one starts feeling better even by looking at those rich colors.
This is another one that intrigues me. Looks a lot like Aakarkarabh (Anacyclus pyrethrum), which has been my Mom’s fav for swollen throats since my school days. Yes, it is a flower though it doesn’t look much like one. It is the mother of all tangy herbs in terms of taste, and can banish even the nastiest oral or throat inflammation within seconds if you can dare to chew and hold it raw in the mouth. Also a very good nervine tonic and stimulant of laryngeal muscles, it is used in treating various speech difficulties in children. Classical singers are known to use it for improving their voices.
Here’s a wild beauty-amongst-thorns that is also a medicinal boon – Swarnakshiri (Argemone mexicana).
I’m not very knowledgeable about its natural history, but the name suggests a Latin American nativity, although it is naturalized in the whole world today. The whole plant contains natural atropine analogs and so is used widely in herbal medicine, but proves fatal in high doses.
Okay, this isn’t a flower and not from the wilderness too. It is a *cute* sapling of a limited edition exotic variety of alphonso mango (Mangifera indica), that is coincidentally my namesake, the Harshad mango developed by Dapoli Agriculture University in year 2k. Note the alternately paired leaf pattern which is otherwise not distinctly highlighted when you see a tree, and also the beautiful reticulate pattern venation so starkly contrasted by the golden brown color of the new leaflets.
… And then there is another toxic beauty after Swarnakshiri.
Dhatura (Datura indica) is widely used in respiratory and cardiac medicines in Ayurveda. Interestingly, it is also revered in Hinduism as the favorite flower of Lord Shiva, the god of destruction and resurrection.
So, which of these do you think is the best? Can you shed some light on the anonymous ones? Tell us in the comments. You can also share your own photos of medicinal plants (only original works), and we’ll publish them with your name, credentials and a short bio if provided.
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Read more about the author Dr. Harshad Rajandekar here.