Eternal Beauty of Nature

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Hedychium coronarium – Butterfly Ginger Lily – Ajaytao


Hedychium coronarium - Butterfly Ginger Lily - Ajaytao

Hedychium coronarium – Butterfly Ginger Lily – Ajaytao

Common name: Butterfly Ginger Lily, White Ginger Lily, Garland Flower, Fiji: Cevuga vula, Hawaii: Awapuhi ke’oke’o, Indonesia: Gondasuli, Gandasoli, Mandasuli, Malaysia: Gandasuli, Suli, Nepal: Dudh kevara, Thai: Hanghong, Mahaahong, Tha haan, Hun kaeo, Samoa: Teuila paepae, Vietnam: Bch dip

Sanskrit: Kalyana saughandhikam, Hindi: Dolan champa दोलन चम्पा • Manipuri: তখেল্লৈ অঙৌবা Takhellei angouba • Marathi: Sontaka • Kannada: Suruli Sugandhi • Assamese: Pakhila phul • Tamil: Chankitam, Chantikantam, Chantiramullikai • Oriya: स्वर्ण चम्पा Swarna champa • Telugu: Kichchiligadda, Vasa Vasanthi,

Botanical name: Hedychium coronarium (J.König)

Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger family)
Genus: Hedychium
Species: H. coronarium

The white ginger lily (Hedychium coronarium) is a perennial flowering plant originally from the Himalayas region of Nepal and India. It was introduced in Brazil in the era of slavery, brought to the country by African slaves who used its leaves as mattresses, and is now so common that it is considered an invasive weed. It is also considered an invasive species in Hawaii. Hedychium is a genus of flowering plants in the ginger family Zingiberaceae, native to lightly wooded habitats in Asia. It is a popular landscape plant throughout Florida, the Gulf Coast, California, the Caribbean and tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. Ginger lily also is grown in mild winter temperate regions of North America and Europe where it dies back in winter but re-emerges in spring.

Hedychium coronarium - Butterfly Ginger Lily - Ajaytao

Hedychium coronarium – Butterfly Ginger Lily – Ajaytao

Butterfly ginger lily is an erect shrub with a stout rootstock, growing 0.5 to 1.5 meters high. Leaves are smooth or the lower surfaces moderately hairy, lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate, 10 to 50 centimeters long, 3 to 11 centimeters wide, with slender pointed tip. Ligule is prominent, 1 to 3 centimeters long. Ellipsoid spike is at the top of the stem, 5 to 12 centimeters long. Bracts are green, ovate to obovate, about 4 centimeters long, and each with 2 or 3 very fragrant flowers, with a fragrance that is more pronounced in the evening. Calyx is tubular, clefted on one side, and about 4 centimeters long; lobes are narrow, involute, and about 4 centimeters long. Lip is obcordate or obovate, 5 to 6 centimeters in diameter, white and pale yellow in the center. Staminodes are white, oblong-elliptic, obtuse, narrowed at the base, 4 to 5 centimeters long and 2 to 2.5 centimeters wide. Capsule is oblong, smooth, many seeded, with orange-yellow valves inside. Aril is red.

Butterfly ginger lily is beautiful and fragrant flower. It is a robust, attractive plant that will reach 6 feet in containers. Butterfly ginger stalks emerge from a thick, slowly growing rhizome and grow skyward through the spring and summer. In late summer, pinecone-like buds form atop the thick 5′ tall stems. Starting in midsummer, the 2″ wide, butterfly-shaped (white with a central yellow blotch) flowers of Hedychium coronarium begin to open, a few each day, perfuming the air with a rich honeysuckle-like fragrance until frost. They are rhizomatous perennials, commonly growing 120–180 cm (47–71 in) tall. Leaves are lance-shaped and sharp-pointed, 8-24 in long and 2-5 in wide and arranged in 2 neat ranks that run the length of the stem. From midsummer through autumn the stalks are topped with 6-12 in long clusters of wonderfully fragrant white flowers that look like butterflies. The flowers eventually give way to showy seed pods chock full of bright red seeds.

Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade, Light Shade

Bloom Color: White, Near White

Bloom Time: Mid Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

Foliage: Herbaceous, Smooth-Textured

Other details: Flowers are fragrant

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements: 5.6 to 6.0 (acidic), 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Propagation Methods: By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs.

Hedychium coronarium - Butterfly Ginger Lily - Ajaytao

Hedychium coronarium – Butterfly Ginger Lily – Ajaytao

Hedychium coronarium is a real attention-getter in the summer garden, slightly moist, well-drained soils produce the best flowering.

Some species are cultivated for their exotic foliage and fragrant spikes of flowers in shades of white, yellow and orange. Numerous cultivars have been developed for garden use, of which ‘Tara’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

H. coronarium is the National Flower of Cuba, where it is known as “Mariposa” (literally “butterfly”) due to its shape. Women used to adorn themselves with these fragrant flowers in Spanish colonial times; because of the intricate structure of the inflorescence, women hid and carried secret messages important to the independence cause under it.  The plant has become wild in the cool rainy mountains in Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Rio Province in the west, Escambray Mountains in the center of the island, and in Sierra Maestra in the very west of it.

Butterfly ginger lily (takhellei) is used in Manipur to make a floral ornament known as nachom, together with Mimosa Bush flowers (chingonglei). Two or three flowers of the chingonglei are inserted inside the lily and the combination of the two flowers is regarded as divine. This ornamental flower combination is usually worn behind the ear by womenfolk. The plants are very robust and quickly grow out of the containers. They need to be divided yearly. Remove old stems after flowers have faded to promote new growth.

Combine ginger lily with its relatives in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, to create easy growing but dramatically tropical (part) shade gardens. Pinecone ginger (Zingiber zerumbet) has similar leaves with big bulbous reproductive structures from which awaphui shampoo is made. The official ginger (Zingiber officinale) has a similar root as butterfly ginger but one that is much tastier. Shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is a spectacular tropical flower and dancing girls ginger (Globba winitii) produces some of the cutest and showiest flowers in the garden.


Young buds and flowers are edible. Used as flavoring. Roots used as famine food.



Dried rhizome contains: starch, 3 %; glucose, 4.58 %; albumen, 1.65 %; fats, 0.33%; resinous acid, 3.6%; resinous acid, 3.66%; resin, 5.93 %; extractive matter, 0.91%;  essential oil;, 13.75 %; organic acids, 5.5%; cellulose, 29.68%.

The flower yields a fragrant essential oil; the rhizome, a volatile oil.
Study on rhizomes yielded coronarin -D, coronarin -D ethyl ether, coronarin -E, and a new diterpene identified as (+)-14β-hydroxylabda-8(17),12-dieno-16,15-lactone, assigned the trivial name of isocoronarin-D. Several labdane-type diterpenes–coronarin A, B, C, D, E, and F have been isolated from the rhizome.

Hedychium coronarium - Butterfly Ginger Lily - Ajaytao

Hedychium coronarium – Butterfly Ginger Lily – Ajaytao

Medicinal uses

Folkloric: Decoction of stems near the rhizome used as a gargle for tonsillitis; or the raw stem chewed for same purpose.
In the Moluccas the base of the stem is chewed and the juice applied to swellings.
In Brazil decoction of rhizome is antirheumatic, tonic and excitant.
In India, sold in bottles of extract called Gulbakawali Ark; used as eye tonic and for to prevent eye cataracts. Certain tribal groups of Bihar use the rhizome of the plant as febrifuge. In Ayurveda, considered febrifuge, tonic, stimulant and antirheumatic.
In Bangladesh plant rhizome used for diabetes.
In Chinese medicine, used for headache, inflammatory pains, rheumatism.
In the Moluccas used as antirheumatic, tonic, and excitant.
In Hawaii juice of mature seeds use as treatment for hair and skin afflictions.
In Thailand, boiled leaves are applied to relieve stiff and sore joints.


H. coronarium has been included in the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD 2008). It has been listed as a noxious weed in South Africa (prohibited plants that must be controlled. They serve no economic purpose and possess characteristics that are harmful to humans, animals or the environment) and Queensland Australia.

Hedychium coronarium is a widely cultivated garden ornamental and as a source of cut flowers. It is the national plant of Cuba. Its rhizomes are edible and also have medicinal properties. However, these uses cannot compensate for this plant’s overall negative impacts.

Ajaytao Photography


Tagetes erecta – Marigold – Ajaytao

Tagetes erecta - Marigold - Ajaytao

Tagetes erecta – Marigold – Ajaytao

Common name: Marigold, African Marigold, Aztec Marigold, Chinchilla Enana, Huacatay, Mexican Marigold, Muster John Henry, Rose d’Inde, Saffron Marigold, Souci Africain, Souci

Hindi: Genda गेंदा ,
Marathi: Jhenduphool झेंडूफूल,

Botanical name: Tagetes erecta
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
Genus: Tagetes
Species: T. erecta

Tagetes is a genus of 56 species of annual and perennial, mostly herbaceous plants in the sunflower family (Asteraceae or Compositae).

The name Tagetes is from the name of the Etruscan Tages.

The common name in English, “marigold”, is derived from “Mary’s gold”, a name first applied to a similar plant native to Europe, Calendula officinalis.

The most commonly cultivated varieties of Tagetes are known variously as Mexican marigolds or African marigolds (usually referring to cultivars and hybrids of Tagetes erecta, although this species is not native to Africa), or French marigolds (usually referring to hybrids and cultivars of Tagetes patula, many of which were developed in France, although the species is not native to that country). Signet marigolds are hybrids derived mostly from Tagetes tenuifolia.

Tagetes erecta - Marigold - Ajaytao

Tagetes erecta – Marigold – Ajaytao

Tagetes minuta is the source of commercial “Tagetes oil” used in industry. It is now a naturalized species in Africa, Hawaii, and Australia, and is considered an invasive species (weed) in some regions. Tagetes minuta, native to southern South America, is a tall, upright marigold plant with small flowers used as a culinary herb in Peru, Ecuador, and parts of Chile and Bolivia, where it is called by the Incan term huacatay. The paste is used to make the popular potato dish called ocopa. Having both “green” and “yellow/orange” notes, the taste and odor of fresh T. minuta is like a mixture of sweet basil, tarragon, mint and citrus. It is also used as a medicinal tea in some areas., but some species have become naturalized around the world. One species, T. minuta, is considered a noxious invasive plant in some areas. They can be easily cultivated, are widely adaptable to varying soils and climatic conditions and have a good flowering duration. This bushy plant with around 20 to 30 species, have a long flowering period and the colours range from orange, yellow, gold, cream to apricot.

The species Tagetes lucida, known as pericón, is used to prepare a sweetish, anise-flavored medicinal tea in Mexico. It is also used as a culinary herb in many warm climates, as a substitute for tarragon, and offered in the nursery as “Texas tarragon” or “Mexican mint marigold“.

Depending on the species, marigold foliage has a musky, pungent scent, though some varieties have been bred to be scentless. It is said to deter some common insect pests, as well as nematodes. Tagetes species are hence often used in companion planting for tomato, eggplant, chili pepper, tobacco, and potato. Due to antibacterial thiophenes exuded by the roots, Tagetes should not be planted near any legume crop. Some of the perennial species are deer-, rabbit-, rodent- and javalina or peccary-resistant.

Tagetes erecta - Marigold - Ajaytao

Tagetes erecta – Marigold – Ajaytao

The marigold is very significant in Nepalese culture, where marigold garlands are used almost in every household, especially during the Tihar festival. It is always sold in the markets for daily worships and rituals.

The marigold was regarded as the flower of the dead in pre-Hispanic Mexico, parallel to the lily in Europe, and is still widely used in the Day of the Dead celebrations. The marigold is also widely cultivated in India and Thailand, particularly the species T. erecta, T. patula, and T. tenuifolia. Vast quantities of marigolds are used in garlands and decoration for weddings, festivals, and religious events. Marigold cultivation is extensively seen in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh.

Marigolds have long had an important spiritual and religious significance for many different cultures. The Aztecs believed marigolds to have protective properties and could be of aid when foraging rivers or assist with healing after being struck by lightning. In India garlands made of Marigolds are used to honor gods in Hindu ceremonies. In Mexico Marigolds are steeped to make teas for rituals and for medicinal purposes, they are also used ornamentally on Dia de los Muertos to decorate alters created to honor past loved ones.

Marigolds are recorded as a food plant for some Lepidoptera caterpillars including the dot moth, and a nectar source for other butterflies. They are often part of butterfly gardening plantings. In the wild, many species are pollinated by beetle.

The marigold was regarded as the flower of the dead in pre-Hispanic Mexico, parallel to the lily in Europe, and is still widely used in the Day of the Dead celebrations.

In the Ukraine, chornobryvtsi (T. erecta, T. patula, and the signet marigold, T. tenuifolia) are regarded as one of the national symbols, and are often mentioned in songs, poems, and tales.

Tagetes erecta - Marigold - Ajaytao

Tagetes erecta – Marigold – Ajaytao

The vivid orange color of Marigold flowers makes them ideal for use as décor on wedding cakes and other pastries prepared for celebratory occasions. Use as garnish when plating or on serving platters. Float atop a punch bowl of red or white sangria. Their appearance will complement spring, summer and early fall preparations best. The florets of Tagetes erecta are rich in the orange-yellow carotenoid lutein and are used as a food colour (INS-number E161b) in the European Union for foods such as pasta, vegetable oil, margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressing, baked goods, confectionery, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, citrus juice and mustard. In the United States, however, the powders and extracts are only approved as colorants in poultry feed.

Medicinal Uses

Tagetes is a plant. The parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.

Tagetes is used for digestive tract problems including poor appetite, gas, stomach pain, colic, intestinal worms, and dysentery. It is also used for coughs, colds, mumps, fluid retention, and sore eyes; and causing sweating.

Women use tagetes to start menstruation, treat sore breasts (mastitis), and protect against miscarriage.

People sometimes apply the Leaves directly to the skin for treating sores and ulcers. The Flowers are used as a mosquito repellent. The Juice of the leaves is put on the skin for treating eczema. The Oil is put on the skin for treating wound maggots.

In foods and beverages, tagetes is used as a flavor component.

In manufacturing, the oil is used as a fragrance in perfumes. The dried, ground flowers are used as chicken feed to enhance the characteristic yellow color of chicken skin and egg yolk.

Tagetes contains ingredients that might help decrease swelling (inflammation) and spasms, calm the nerves, and reduce blood pressure.

Ajaytao Photography



Jasminum Malabaricum – Malabar Jasmine – Ajaytao

Jasminum Malabaricum - Malabar Jasmine - Ajaytao

Jasminum Malabaricum – Malabar Jasmine – Ajaytao

Common name: Malabar Jasmine, Wild jasmine

Marathi: Kusar, Ran mogra
Sanskrit: Mudgara
Sinhala: Pichcha

Botanical name: Jasminum malabaricum

Family: Oleaceae (Jasmine family)
Tribe: Jasmineae
Genus: Jasminum
Species: J. malabaricum

Jasminum malabaricum (malabar jasmine, wild jasmine) is a species of flowering plant in the family Oleaceae, native to southern parts of India, and Sri Lanka, In India it is found in the Western Ghats, State – Kerala, District/s: Wayanad, Kasaragode, Kannur, Palakkad, Kozhikkode

It is a large climber, growing up to 3-5 m. Woody stems are 4 cm thick. Slender branches are spreading and trailing. Scandent shrubs. Leaves simple, oppositely arranged membranous leaves 8-10 x 6-7.2 cm, ovate, apex abruptly shortly acuminate, base truncate or subcordate; The base of the leaf is either rounded or heart-shaped, lateral nerves 8-9 pairs slender; petiole 1 cm long, jointed above the base.

Jasminum Malabaricum - Fruit - Ajaytao

Jasminum Malabaricum – Fruit – Ajaytao


Fragrant white flowers appear in many flowered lax trichotomously brached terminal cymes; the flowers appear in branched cymes at the end of branches, up to 50 in a single cyme, bracts 6-8 mmm long, linear subulate; pedicels 6-8 mm long. Calyx 1.2 cm long, lobes 5-7, subulate, pubescent. Petals are 6-10, 2 cm long, lance-like and spreading. Corolla white, tube 2 cm long, lobes 6-10, oblong or lanceolate, acute, 2 cm long. Fruit 1-1.2 x 0.8-1 cm, ovoid, drying black, single or paired.

It is found planted near many temples, and is used in worship. This one is very rare in northern parts of India.

Medicinal use

Jasminum malabaricum can also be used for the treatment of Cataract, as a blood purifier and in cosmetic and detergent industries. It is known for its ethno medicinal importance like antibacterial, antioxidant, blood purifier, anti-tumor properties. The extensive exploitation of this species has led to reduction of its natural population. Owing to its attributes callus culture studies was carried out using Murashige and Skoog medium with different combinations and concentrations of BAP, NAA and 2,4D. The leaves and stem segments were used as explants for callus growth and leaves responded significantly to produce callus. The total phenolics present in the callus culture were estimated.

Ajaytao Photography

Hymenocallis littoralis – Beach Spider Lily – Ajaytao

Hymenocallis littoralis - Beach Spider Lily - Ajaytao

Hymenocallis littoralis – Beach Spider Lily – Ajaytao

Common name: Spider lily, Beach spider lily

Botanical name: Hymenocallis littoralis

Family: Amaryllidaceae (Nargis family)

Genus: Hymenocallis

Species: H. littoralis

Hymenocallis littoralis or the Beach Spider Lily is a plant species of the genus Hymenocallis, of Latin America and widely cultivated and naturalized in many tropical countries. The flowers are delightfully fragrant, with up to 8 flowers blooming on each flower stalk at a time.

These types of lilies are sometimes called Beach Spider Lily. Natives to the tropics and subtropics, they like sun, surf and sand.

Hymenocallis littoralis is a bulbous perennial herb. It ranges in height from 60-70cm (36 inches). The bulb is 7-10 cm (3-4 inches) in diameter. With age, the bulb develops a neck that reaches 4-5 cm in diameter (up to 2 inches). The flowers are large, white, vanilla scented, and sessile. The sepals are adnate (attached to) the staminal cup. Each flower’s tube is 14 to 17 cm (5 to 7 inches) long or longer.

With long strappy leaves, most plants resemble agapanthus when not in flower. However the leaves are a darker green in colour and on most species, tend to be held slightly upright and in distinct ranks. This upright leaf arrangement catches and hides falling leaves making them the perfect low maintenance plant under trees with a high leaf drop.

Hymenocallis littoralis - Beach Spider Lily - Ajaytao

Hymenocallis littoralis – Beach Spider Lily – Ajaytao

Hymenocallis is a genus of some 70 species with a broad range.
Hymenocallis littoralis is native to warmer coastal regions, this includes the southern United States to the north, down through Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and into the very north of South America, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Brazil. It is considered naturalized in Florida, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Guinée, Central African Republic, São Tomé & Principe, Zaire (Congo-Kinshasa), Angola, Zambia, the Chagos Islands, Mauritius, Seychelles, Ogasawara ( 小笠原群島 Bonin Islands), India, Sri Lanka, Java, the Philippines, Bismark Archipelago, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Marquesas, Society Islands, Micronesia, Hawaii, Ecuador, French Guinea and Suriname. They are so tough, undemanding and always look manicured and presentable.

Species can be divided into those that are evergreen and deciduous. The evergreen species are very widely grown in the tropics and subtropics whilst the deciduous species are much more uncommon, being mainly grown in subtropics and warm temperate areas. Many of these deciduous species were briefly included in the genus Ismene.

The exotic white flowers have extremely long, hanging petals with a central staminal cup formed from the membranes of the staminodes. The name Hymenocallis means ‘beautiful membrane’. Unlike agapanthus, they have a long flowering period and at times are so smothered in flowers you can hardly see the foliage. The biggest flush of flowers occurs at the start of the rainy season and then the flowers seem to come in flushes coinciding with very wet periods. Flowers open in the evening emitting their perfume overnight and generally last 2 to 3 days.

This may help you to remember how to take care of these beautiful lilies. Give them plenty of water throughout the growing season, add sand to the soil for fast drainage and find a spot where they’ll get several hours of bright, filtered light.

Humidity: Average room humidity

Temperature: Warm 70-85°F, 21-29°C during active growth; minimum winter temperature of 60°/16°C

Soil: 3 parts all-purpose potting mix: 1 part coarse sand

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks in spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half.

Propagation: Division of bulbs. Separate offsets from the parent bulb in spring and pot them up. Water newly potted bulbs sparingly for the first month or until you see new growth.Overwintering spider lilies indoors will protect this frost-tender plant.

To get the best from your plants, divide them every 5 to 10 years and replant in freshly dug soil enriched with compost, ground rock mineral fertiliser and composted animal manure. These plants look great ‘en masse’ so plant out large numbers for some spectacular displays. Foliar feed plants under vigorous trees.

Repot in spring when you see new growth, and only when it gets too crowded, probably every 4 years or so. This tropical lily flowers best when potbound.

Hymenocallis littoralis is often grown as an ornamental. It requires sunlight to partial shade for proper growth and blooms from mid-summer to late autumn with white flowers. It may be grown aquatically.

Ajaytao Photography