Flowers grow nearby
Awaits every sunrise
Fall asleep at night….
I pause –
the heavy air on
orange day lilies
curb the hazy roadside—
An array of lush nature;
Boundless in splendor
Piles on the ground;
too many leaves have fallen.
They rustle, then rot
Open in field of green
Bright white flowers attract bugs
Silky gold milkweed
Growth flourishes in bright sun
Yellow flowers open
The flower is the stem’s cry
of beauty to the universe
Flower opens in the sun
A world is reborn
a leaf in the wind
a leaf in the wind
driven by forces unseen
just as we all are
at the roadside
solitary flowering weed
vision of loveliness
leaf falling from the tree
does its last dance in the air
then settles to the ground
in the crack in the concrete
the grass pushes upwards
unstoppable life force
Yellow and brown
The leaves are falling
Over the town
the last leaf
with a gust of wind decides
it’s time to go– gone
Robert Henry Poulin
We, the rustling leaves,
have a voice that answers the storms,
but who are you so silent?
I am a mere flower.”
Common name: Ladies Finger, Okra
Vernacular names: Common okra, okra, okro, lady’s finger (En), Gombo commun, gombo, gumbo (Fr), Quiabeiro (Po), Mbamia, mbinda (Sw), China: qiu kui, Middle East (in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, and Turkish), it is called bamia or bamyeh, Bosnia and Herzegovina: bamija, Dominican Republic: molondron, Sinhalese : Bandakka, Spanish : Gombo, Ají turco, Thai : Krachiap, Ton krachiap, Polish : Czyli okra, Ketmia jadalna, Romanian: Bame.
Bhindi भिन्डी (Hindi), Belendri (Manipuri), Vendaikkaay (Tamil), Sanskrit : Bhenda, Darvika, Gandhamula, Pitali, Tindisa, Tindisha.
Botanical name: Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench
Family: Malvaceae (mallow Family)
Species: A. esculentus
Synonyms: Hibiscus esculentus L. (1753).
A member of the hibiscus family, okra is an annual that gets 3-8′ tall (depending on the cultivar) and bears yellow flowers that give rise to the familiar okra pods so valued in Cajun gumbos. It is valued for its edible green seed pods The plant is a rather coarse annual with large lobed, slightly spiny leaves and a thick, semiwoody stem with few branches and bears yellow flowers that give rise to the familiar okra pods so common in India as a fried vegetable.
The genus Abelmoschus originated in South-East Asia. Abelmoschus esculentus, however, is a cultigen of uncertain origin. It is widespread in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions, but is particularly popular in West Africa, India, the Philippines, Thailand and Brazil. Abelmoschus esculentus has been reported from the whole of tropical Africa, whereas West African okra (Abelmoschus caillei (A.Chev.) Stevels) is restricted to the humid and perhumid climates of Africa.
Okra’s attractive blossoms are ivory or yellow in color, funnel-shaped and resemble hibiscus flowers. The throat of the flower is maroon. The plant is a rather coarse annual with large lobed, slightly spiny leaves and a thick, semi woody stem with few branches. The flowers are showy: hibiscus-like with pale yellow or cream colored petals and purplish hearts.
Okra blooms and produces over an extended season, usually until first frost. Cornucopia II lists 25 varieties of okra available from American seedsmen. They come in green, pale lime, purple and red pod colors. Some are adapted especially for northern climates, even performing well in southern Canada. Some are dwarf varieties, suited for small gardens; some are spineless and some are velvety until cooked. The standard American okra is ‘Clemson Spineless”, accounting for some 90% of commercial production, and serving the home gardener well for many decades.
Stout, annual, erect herb up to 4 m tall, more or less strongly branched; stem terete, with scattered, stiff hairs, glabrescent, often red-blotched; branches erect to curved downwards. Leaves arranged spirally, simple, variable in shape and size; stipules filiform, up to 2 cm long, often split to the base, covered with stiff hairs; petiole up to 50 cm long, often red-tinged, with a line of soft, simple hairs on the upper side, otherwise with scattered, stiff hairs and glabrescent; blade transversally elliptical to orbicular in outline, up to 50 cm broad, length of midrib up to 35 cm, mostly 3-, 5- or 7-palmatilobed to palmatipartite, cordate at base, 5–9-veined, segments triangular, ovate, elliptical, obovate, oblong, spatulate or lanceolate, acuminate, serrate to crenate, sometimes entire or angular, veins on both sides with scattered, stiff hairs, glabrescent. Flowers axillary, solitary or racemose by reduction or abortion of the upper leaves; pedicel up to 3 cm long in flower, up to 7 cm in fruit, with scattered, stiff hairs, glabrescent; epicalyx segments 7–15, free, linear to lanceolate, 5–25 mm × 0.5–3 mm, acute to acuminate, caducous at flowering or soon after, covered with stiff hairs; calyx spathaceous, 2–6 cm long, 5-toothed apically, usually splitting on one side at the expansion of the corolla, adnate to and caducous with the corolla and staminal column, strigose to sericeous; petals 5, free, obovate to orbicular, 3–7 cm long, base fleshy, apex obtuse to retuse, glabrous, yellow, often turning pink after anthesis, with a dark purple centre; stamens united into a staminal column up to 2.5 cm long, white, glabrous; ovary superior, tomentose, often with some stiff hairs on the costae as well, 5–10 style arms 3–5 mm long, stigmas dark purple, with simple hairs. Fruit an erect, cylindrical to pyramidal capsule 5–25 cm × 1–5 cm, acuminate, terete to 5–10-angled, concave between the costae, gradually losing its original indumentum, when young varying in colour from purple-red and reddish-green to dark green, and from pale green to yellow, completely or partially loculicidal or not opening at all, up to 100-seeded. Seeds globose to ovoid, 3–6 mm in diameter, with minute warts in concentric rows, rarely with long red hairs on the seed coat. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Abelmoschus esculentus (usually 2n = 130) is probably an amphidiploid (allotetraploid), derived from Abelmoschus tuberculatus Pal & H.B.Singh (2n = 58), a wild species from India, and a species with 2n = 72 chromosomes (possibly Abelmoschus ficulneus (L.) Wight & Arn. ex Wight).
Another edible okra species, Abelmoschus caillei (A.Chev.) Stevels, occurs in the humid parts of West and Central Africa. There are strong indications that also Abelmoschus caillei is an amphidiploid with Abelmoschus esculentus being one of the parental species.
There are no apparent differences in use between the common and West African okra, which is why they are often lumped together. Morphologically Abelmoschus caillei differs in several respects from Abelmoschus esculentus, but the epicalyx offers the best discriminating characteristic: the width of the epicalyx segments is 0.5–3 mm in Abelmoschus esculentus and 4–13 mm in Abelmoschus caillei. The two okra species can be quite reliably (but not with absolute certainty) recognized on the basis of fruit form. Fruits of Abelmoschus esculentus are cylindrical to pyramidal, whereas fruits of Abelmoschus caillei are ovoid. Literature references on common okra have to be interpreted with care because they may include information related to Abelmoschus caillei.
Light: Full sun for best production.
Moisture: Keep fast growing okra well watered.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 – 11. Okra is a hot weather annual. Don’t even think of planting your okra seeds until summer has arrived and the nights stay above 55 F. Best growth occurs when soil temperatures are above 65 F. From seedling to first harvest takes only about 60 days, however. If your warm weather growing season is shorter than that, start the plants indoors, setting out after all danger of frost has passed, and maybe even use a cold frame on the cooler nights.
Propagation: You can speed up germination if you soak okra seeds in water for 24 hours before planting. Sow seeds about a half inch deep in one long row or in rows 3′ apart, and thin to 12 or 18″ between plants.
There are many cultivars of common okra. Some of the better known are ‘Clemson Spineless’, ‘Indiana’, ‘Emerald’ (United States) and ‘Pusa Sawani’ (India), which have been in use for about 30 years.
Okra is a popular health food due to its high fiber, vitamin C, and folate content. Okra is also known for being high in antioxidants. Okra is also a good source of calcium and potassium.
It is popular in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, where chopped pieces are stir-fried with spices, pickled, salted or added to gravy-based preparations such as bhindi ghosht and sambar. Okra is cut into small circular pieces about 1/4 inch thick and stick fried in oil with salt and hot pepper powder to make delicious curry.
In Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Albania, Bosnia, Greece, Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Yemen, and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean, including Palestine, Cyprus and Israel, okra is widely used in a thick stew made with vegetables and meat.
In Malaysia okra is commonly a part of yong tau foo cuisine, typically stuffed with processed fish paste (surimi) and boiled with a selection of vegetables and tofu, and served in a soup with noodles.
In Malawi it is preferred cooked and stirred with sodium bicarbonate to make it more slimy. It is then commonly eaten with nsima (pap) made from raw maize flour or maize husks flour.
In the Philippines, okra can be found among traditional dishes like pinakbet, dinengdeng, and sinigang. Because of its mild taste and ubiquity, okra can also be cooked adobo-style, or served steamed or boiled in a salad with tomatoes, onion and bagoong.
It became a popular vegetable in Japanese cuisine toward the end of the 19th century, served with soy sauce and katsuobushi, or as tempura.
In the Caribbean islands, okra is eaten in soup. In Curaçao the soup is known as jambo which primarily is made out of the okra’s mucilage. It is often prepared with fish and funchi, a dish made out of cornmeal and boiling water. In Haiti, it is cooked with rice and maize, and also used as a sauce for meat. In Cuba, it is called quimbombó, along with a stew using okra as its primary ingredient. In Dominican Republic is eaten as if in salad and also cooked with rice.
Okra is low in calories and high in vitamins A and C and in calcium, iron and protein. Properly prepared, it is delicious and not at all mucilaginous or “slimy.” Americans rank okra as one of their least favorite vegetables. Apparently they haven’t had whole okra sautéed in olive oil, or pickled okra, or a big pot of tomatoes, onions and okra stew, not to mention a New Orleans seafood gumbo!
Young immature fruits are an important vegetable, consumed cooked or fried. In West Africa they are usually boiled in water to make slimy soups and sauces. The fruits can be conserved by drying, whole or sliced, or by pickling. Before selling, the dried product is usually ground to powder. Young leaves are commonly used as spinach. The leaves are sometimes used as cattle feed.
Okra mucilage is suitable for medicinal and industrial applications. It has been used as a plasma replacement or blood volume expander. Leaves are sometimes used as a basis for poultices, as an emollient, sudorific or antiscorbutic and to treat dysuria. Okra mucilage has been added as size to glaze paper and is used in confectionery. The bark fibre has been locally used for fishlines and game traps. It is suitable for spinnning into rope and for paper and cardboard manufacture. Roasted okra seeds are used in some areas as a substitute for coffee.
A fibre obtained from the stems is used as a substitute for jute. It is also used in making paper and textiles. The fibres are about 2.4mm long. When used for paper the stems are harvested in late summer or autumn after the edible seedpods have been harvested, the leaves are removed and the stems are steamed until the fibres can be stripped off. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then put in a ball mill for 3 hours. The paper is cream coloured. A decoction of the root or of the seeds is used as a size for paper.
Plants for a future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antispasmodic; Demulcent; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emollient; Stimulant; Vulnerary.
Antioxidant – In a study looking at the diet of South Asian migrants in Bradford, U.K., the antioxidant properties identified in Abelmoschus esculentus were found to be strong candidates in the treatment of disorders of the central nervous system in preference to synthetic antioxidants which exhibit toxicity. In cases of dysentery, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowels syndrome, and Crohn’s disease.
Anti-inflammatory – In Ayurvedic medicine, the anti-inflammatory properties in the mucilage is effective in the treatment of gastro-intestinal disorders, especially pertaining to the intestinal wall.
Antispasmodic – This quality in the seeds is beneficial to the gastro-intestinal tract
Cordial – This quality in the seeds acts as a tonic and a stimulant to the heart, which is supported by linoleic acid, an important polyunsaturated fatty acids that plays a role in the prevention heart vascular diseases.
Demulcent – This quality of the roots is very active due to the mucilage, which can be used to replace plasma. It is a quality that is also present in the leaves, the skin, and especially in the young pods.
Diuretic – The young pods act as a diuretic and emollient. Releases accumulation of water that leads to swelling/water retention, especially a decoction of the roots
Sudorific – An infusion of the roasted seeds has sudorific properties increasing perspiration to expel toxins and excess water.
Emollient: Soothes and softens the skin, and all mucous membranes.
Decoction of roots and leaves as a tea or for washing.
Decoction of young fruit useful for catarrh, urinary problems.
Syrup from mucilaginous fruit used for sore throat.
Poultice of roots and leaves for wound healing.
Young pods for fevers, difficult urination and diarrhea.
Decoction of roots for headaches, varicose veins, arthritis, fevers.
Decoctions of leaves for abdominal pain.
Leaves also useful as emollient poultice.
Seeds used a coffee substitute. Paste of seeds, mixed with milk, used for pruritic skin lesions.
Leaves and immature fruit have long been used in the East in poultices and applied to relieve pain, moisturise skin, induce sweating, prevent scurvy and treat urinary disorders. In Congo-Brazzaville, a leaf decoction is given for heart pains and to promote delivery during childbirth. Okra root has been used to treat syphilis in Malaya.
The roots are very rich in mucilage, having a strongly demulcent action. They are said by some to be better than marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis). Okra mucilage has been used as a plasma replacement and blood volume expander. To obtain the mucilage, slices of immature pods are placed in water, which is then boiled. The mucilage is an acidic polysaccharide composed of galacturonic acid, rhamnose and glucose and tends to break down when overheated.
The hairs on the seed pods can be an irritant to some people and gloves should be worn when harvesting. These hairs can be easily removed by washing.
Many people get an itchy (but short-lived) reaction from the little spines on the leaves and stems of okra, and should therefore be careful when working in the okra patch. However, even highly sensitive individuals do not get the reaction from eating okra.
Shades of Green
Far past my spring green age
I sit, all autumn touched with frost,
in introspective summer sun
and contemplate the lines and limits
of this limp and languorous life.
Above and beyond, the marbled sky,
creamy clouds skilfully stitched by
sedulous swifts into the clear cerulean blue,
to patch and paste a quilted backdrop
for my bordering bank of trees.
Such trees! Such leaves!
Such showers, shoots and sprays
and clamouring cascades
in myriad shades of green:
Here at the very twig tip
the freshest of spring green
brings to my musings small fingers
shyly seeking in the spring meadows
for the timorous hand-holds of new sweethearts
and soft lips barely brushed – first steps
in a dewy-eyed dance of love.
Further back, a deeper green,
so like the fiddle-head ferns on mountain fells
and bracken fronds bent and broken
flat for comfort in passion’s pas de deux
or deeper still to bring to mind
the glass of quarry pools and strings of weed
a-cling to strands of slick and sodden hair.
Emerald leaves spark a memory of firefly nights
tucked tight together with Terpsichore:
a passionate prelude to a closer dance.
Higher, in the conifers, blue-green needles
dusted with a hazy hint of smoke
take me to the sea and secret sandy dunes
and languid cherished shoreline loves
So many greens, from mint to sage,
and clever besides to pick each time the perfect
foil for blood berries and pastel blooms
and even in the passing time, the fall,
the beauty shifts from gold to flame –
though sad to say these painted shrouds
will duly die discarded on the ground
And so I sit replete, content
with visions I could not invent:
to soothe my soul and please my eye
these shades of green will ever satisfy.
Michael Graeme Coxe
I pause –
the heavy air on
by the shadow
of the mountain
i am taking
on the shade
of a tree
i take my
on the shade
of my body
i am taking
on the shade
of my soul
the tree and
Ric S. Bastasa
The air is sweet and with the scent of flowers
Music drifts gently from the wind in the palm
Breathing is easy and I feel utterly at peace
Somehow in this magic place I find I am calm..
The surf is soothing as it repeats its refrain
Life and its daily challenges seem so far away
But my dream this night is to soon ended
I wake to the dawning of the needs of today..
Common name: Lantana, Spanish flag: Irene, Christine, Dallas Red, Malaysia: Big Sage, Caribbean: Wild sage, Red sage, White sage, South Africa: Tickberry,
Hindi: Raimuniya राईमुनिया • Marathi: Tantani तणतणी, Ghaneri घाणेरी • Manipuri: সম্বল লৈ Samballei, Nongballei, থীরৈ Thirei • Tamil: உன்னிச்செடி Unnichedi • Kannada: Kakke, Natahu • Telugu: Pulikampa • Sanskrit: Vanacchedi
Botanical name: Lantana camara var. aculeata
Family: Verbenaceae (Verbena family)
Lantana species are pubescent or glabrous perennial herbs and scandent or erect shrubs. Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the verbena family, Verbenaceae. The genus includes both herbaceous plants and shrubs growing to 0.5–2 m (1.6–6.6 ft) tall. Their common names are shrub verbenas or lantanas.
The generic name originated in Late Latin, where it refers to the unrelated Viburnum lantana.
Flowers sessile, zygomorphic, Calyx copular, subentire, about 4 x 2 mm across, membranous, pubescent, bracts oblong or ovate, Corolla hypocrateriform, 5 lobed, 2 lipped, orange, pinkish red, purple, scarlet red, lower and midlobes subrotund, lateral lobes obtuse, Corolla hypocrateriform, 5 lobed, yellow, red, purple, white or blue. Stamens 4, didynamous, anthers ovoid. Ovary 2-loculed, 1 ovule in each locule, Style shorter than corolla tube, Corolla tube narrow curved, pubescent. Stamens 4, didynamous, filaments about 1 mm long, anthers yellowish, ovoid about 0.5 mm long, Ovary conical about 1 mm long, style stout about 3 mm long, stigma obliquely subcapitate. Calyx glabrous, membranous, truncate. Lantana’s aromatic flower clusters (called umbels) are a mix of red, orange, yellow, or blue and white florets. Other colors exist as new varieties are being selected. The flowers typically change color as they mature, resulting in inflorescences that are two- or three-colored. Due to extensive selective breeding throughout the 17th and 18th Century for use as an ornamental plant there are now many different forms of L. camara present throughout the world.
Flowers come in many different colours including red, yellow, white, pink and orange which differ depending on location, age and maturity. After pollination occurs the colour of the flowers change (typically from yellow to red/pink/orange), this is believed to be a signal to pollinators that the pre-change colour contains a reward as well as being sexually viable, thus increasing pollination efficiency.
Leaves opposite, simple, lanceolate-ovate, cordate or ovate-oblong, 3-9 x 1.5-6 cm across, base attenuate, cuneate or rounded, margin serrate or crenate, apex acuminate, coarse chartaceous and dark green on the dorsal side, densely resinous-punctate and sparsely pubescent on veins beneath, lateral veins 4-6 on either side of the midrib, Petiole about 0.5-3.5 cm long with inconspicuous prickles, exstipulate. Inflorescence cylindric spike or subumbellate, axillary 1 x 1-1.5 cm, Peduncle slender 3-7 cm long with inconspicuous prickles, bracts oblong or lanceolate, ciliate along the margins, pubescent outside Leaves decussate-opposite or ternate, simple, petiolate, margin dentate or serrate. Inflorescence cylindric spike or head, usually axillary, pedunculate, bracts conspicuous. The leaves are egg-shaped, simple, arranged oppositely on the stem and have a strong odour when crushed. The leaves are 2-5 in long by 1-2 in wide with rounded tooth edges and a textured surface. Stems and leaves are covered with rough hairs and emit an unpleasant aroma when crushed. Branches 4 angular.
The fruit of L. camara is berry-like and turns a deep purple colour when mature. Both vegetative (asexual) and seed reproduction occur. Up to 12,000 fruits can be produced by each plant which are then eaten by birds and other animals which can spread the seeds over large distances, facilitating the spread of L. camara. Fruit drupaceous with 2 seeded pyrenes.
“Wild lantanas” are plants of the unrelated genus Abronia, usually called “sand-verbenas“.
Lantana species flowers are bisexual, i.e., with functional male (androecium) and female (gynoecium), including stamens, carpels and ovary. Pollination is entomophilous i.e., by insects. Flowering/Fruiting: Almost throughout the year.
They are native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa but exist as an introduced species in numerous areas, especially in the Australian-Pacific region. Some species are invasive, and are considered to be noxious weeds, such as in South Asia, Southern Africa and Australia. In the United States, lantanas are naturalized in the southeast, especially coastal regions of the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and the Gulf Coast. The native range of L. camara is Central and South America, however it has become naturalised in around 60 tropical and sub-tropical countries worldwide. It is found frequently in East and South Africa where it occurs at altitudes below 2000m and often invades previously disturbed areas such as logged forests and areas cleared for agriculture.
As well as Africa, it has also colonised areas of Southern Europe such as Spain and Portugal, the Middle East, India, Tropical Asia, Australia, New Zealand, USA as well as many Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean Islands.It has also become a significant weed in Sri Lanka after escaping from the Royal Botanic gardens of Sri Lanka in 1926.
It was introduced into the Philippines from Hawaii as part of an exchange program between the United States and the Philippines, however it managed to escape and has become naturalised in the islands.
The extent of L. camara distribution is still increasing, shown by the fact that it has invaded many islands on which it was not present in 1974 (including Galapagos Islands, Saipan and the Solomon Islands). There is also evidence that L. camara is still increasing its range in areas where it has been established for many years such as East Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The ability of L. camara to rapidly colonise areas of land which have been disturbed has allowed it to proliferate in countries where activities such as logging, clearance for agriculture and forest fires are common. Whereas in countries with large areas of intact primary forest, the distribution of L. camara has been limited.
Biological control of introduced lantanas has been attempted, without robust success. In Australia, about 30 insects have been introduced in an attempt to control the spread of lantanas, and this has caused problems of its own. The Lantana Bug (Aconophora compressa) for example is a polyphagous species introduced in 1995 that feeds on dozens of plants, and not only has it failed to have a noticeable impact on the lantana population, it has even become a pest in horticulture, parasitizing the related fiddlewoods (Citharexylum). The small Lantana-feeding moths Epinotia lantana and Lantanophaga pusillidactyla, while not becoming pests, have nonetheless failed to stem the spread of the invasive weed, as has the Lantana Scrub-hairstreak butterfly (Strymon bazochii) which was introduced to control lantanas on the Hawaiian Islands.
Other Lepidoptera whose caterpillars feed on Lantana species include the Common Splendid Ghost Moth (Aenetus ligniveren), Aenetus scotti, Endoclita malabaricus, Hypercompe orsa and the Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum). The Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor) is one of the few mammals that eat Lantana leaves without apparent ill effect.
As a positive aspect, lantanas are useful as honey plants, and Spanish Flag (L. camara), L. lilacina and L. trifolia are sometimes planted for this purpose, or in butterfly gardening. Butterflies which are attracted to lantana flowers are most notably Papilioninae (swallowtail and birdwing butterflies). Hesperiidae (skippers) and certain brush-footed butterflies (namely Danainae and Heliconiinae), as well as some Pieridae (e.g. Cloudless Sulphur, Phoebis sennae) and Lycaenidae (e.g. the aforementioned Lantana Scrub-hairstreak), also like to visit the plants’ flowers. Consequently, as total eradication of Lantana seems often impossible, it may in many cases be better to simply remove plants with immature (green) fruit to prevent them from spreading.
Some weaverbirds, e.g. the Black-throated Weaver (Ploceus benghalensis) and the Streaked Weaver (P. manyar), highly value Lantana flowers for decorating their nests. An ability to procure spectacular and innovative decorations appears to be desired by females, and consequently is an indicator of the males’ fitness.
Uses: L. camara stalks have been used in the construction of furniture such as chairs and tables, however, the main uses have historically been medicinal and ornamental.
L. camara also attracts butterflies and birds and so is frequently used in Florida’s butterfly gardens.
Studies conducted in India have found that Lantana leaves can display antimicrobial, fungicidal and insecticidal properties. L. camara has also been used in traditional herbal medicines for treating a variety of ailments, including cancer, skin itches, leprosey, rabies, chicken pox, measles, asthma and ulcers.
There are also some scientific studies which have shown beneficial effects of L .camara, such as one by R. Satish which found that an extract from the plant reduced ulcer development in rats. Extracts from the plant have also been used to treat respiratory infections in Brazil.
Current advancement in drug discovery technology and search for novel chemical diversity have intensified the efforts for exploring lead from “Ayurveda” the traditional system of medicine in India. Lantana camara, Family: Verbenaceae has been important coniferous plant in ayurvedic and indigenous medicinal systems. The Clinical trials and animal research support the use of Lantana camara for anti-spasmodic, carminative, anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-malarial, anti-ulcer genic, treatment of emotional stress and trauma, anti-microbial, insecticidal, fungicidal, asthma. Major biochemical constituents of Lantana camara were identified as alkaloids/flavonoids, saponins/tannins, germacrene-A, B and D, triterpenes like lantadenes-A, B, C, D, valencene (principle constituent) and γ-gurjunene, verbascoside, martynoside.This paper includes the evidence-basedoverview of pharmacological and phytochemical properties of the aerial parts of Lantana camara.
The spread of lantana is aided by the characteristic of their leaves, which are somewhat poisonous to most animals, while their fruit is a delicacy for many birds which distribute the seeds. Birds like the Yellow-fronted White-eye of Vanuatu, the Superb Fairy-wren in Australia, the Scaly-breasted Munia, or the Mauritius Bulbul in the Mascarenes thus unwittingly contribute to the degradation of their home ecosystem.
Lantana species, especially L. camara, contain pentacyclic triterpenoids that cause hepatotoxicity and photosensitivity when ingested by grazing animals such as sheep, goats, bovines, and horses. This has led to widespread livestock loss in the United States, South Africa, India, Mexico, and Australia.
Although lantanas are generally hardy and, being somewhat toxic, are usually rejected by herbivores, they may still become infested with pests.
The edibility of Lantana berries is contested. Some experts claim Lantana berries are edible when ripe though like many fruit are mildly poisonous if eaten while still green. Other experts claim that experimental research indicates that both unripe and ripe Lantana berries are potentially lethal, despite claims by others that ripe berries are not poisonous.
Extracts of Lantana camara may be used for protection of cabbage against the aphid Lipaphis erysimi.
L. camara is known to be toxic to livestock such as cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and goats. The active substances causing toxicity in grazing animals is pentacyclic triterpenoids which results in liver damage and photosensitivy. L. camara also excretes chemicals (allelopathy) which reduce the growth of surrounding plants by inhibiting germination and root elongation.
The toxicity of L. camara to humans is undetermined, with several studies suggesting that ingesting berries can be toxic to humans, such as a study by O P Sharma which states “Green unripe fruits of the plant are toxic to humans”. However other studies have found evidence which suggests that ingesion of L. camara fruit poses no risk to humans and are infact edible when ripe.
Piles on the ground;
too many leaves have fallen
They rustle, then rot
Common name: Peacock Flower, Pride of Barbados, Poinciana, Red Bird of Paradise, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Poinciana, Flamboyan-de-jardin.
Hindi: गुलेतूरा Guletura • Manipuri: ক্রিশ্নচূরা Krishnachura • Marathi: Sankasur • Telugu: Ratnagandhi • Kannada: Kenjige • Oriya: Krishnochuda • Tamil: Mayurkonrai • Malayalam: Settimandaram • Bengali: ক্রিশ্নচূড়া Krishnachura, রাধাচূড়া Radhachura • Sanskrit: Sidhakya
Botanical name: Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Family: Fabaceae, Caesalpiniaceae (Pea family)(Gulmohar family)
Species: C. pulcherrima
Caesalpinia pulcherrima is a species of flowering plant in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas and the world. It could be native to the West Indies, but its exact origin is unknown due to widespread cultivation, like many other plants, Peacock flower has escaped cultivation and become established in warm climate regions throughout the world, it flourishes during summer when the weather is hottest and other vegetation fades. Nobody can justify its origins but it was about 1680 that the tree was recorded as growing in the gardens of India.
The name Caesalpinia honors a 16th century botanist and philosopher ‘Andrea Caesalpini‘ and ‘Pulcherrima’ means “very pretty” is derived from a from a famous family ‘Leguminosae’ and it subfamily is Caesalpineae. The tree is famous in India and is known in hindi as ‘Kunish Churin‘, the Bengali people know it as ‘Krishna Chura‘ and ‘Radha Chura‘.
Peacock flower is an evergreen shrub or small tree in frost free climates, a deciduous to semi-deciduous shrub in areas with only occasional, slight frost, and a returning perennial in temperate climates with mild winters (down to 19°F (-7°C).
The tree can rise upto 25m and its low branches form an open and spreading bush. It is a shrub growing to 3 m tall. The leaves are bipinnate, 20–40 cm long, bearing 3-10 pairs of pinnae, each with 6-10 pairs of leaflets 15–25 mm long and 10–15 mm broad. The fruit is a pod 6–12 cm long. This exotic plant is used extensively for its extravagant, showy flowers and its incredible heat tolerance. The flowers are borne in terminal clusters 8-10″ (20-25 cm) tall throughout most of the year in tropical climates and in late summer and fall where frosts occur. The most common colours are red and orange or a combination of red and yellow, but there are also forms with pure yellow flowers (often called yellow bird of paradise) and forms with flowers in shades of pink.
The inch-wide flowers have slightly ruffled petals and 10 long, red protruding stamens as accents (except the pure yellow form). As the inflorescence elongates, it produces new flowers at the top 1/3, and promptly sheds the lower old flowers. The pods form quickly at the bottom of the inflorescence, and the flower buds open a few at a time, so that buds, flowers, and seed pods appear simultaneously. The flowers are borne in racemes up to 20 cm long, each flower with five yellow, orange or red petals. Flowers, which appear in clusters on long erect stems, are smalled than those of Gulmohar and have exceptionally long stamens and a prominent pistil which protrudes from the center. Beautifully fringed, orange and red blooms cover this magnificent,West Indian shrub with deeply divided foliage. The most common color is red-orange, but one variety has pure yellow flowers.
C. pulcherrima is the most widely cultivated species in the genus Caesalpinia. It is a striking ornamental plant, widely grown in domestic and public gardens and has a beautiful inflorescence in yellow, red and orange. Its small size and the fact that it tolerates pruning well allows it to be planted in groups to form a hedgerow; it can be also used to attract hummingbirds.
Culture: Peacock flower is very easy to grow in alkaline to acidic, well-drained soils. This is a fast growing plant and moderately tolerant of salty conditions. Fertilizer application is hardly necessary, especially if it is grown in adequately mulched soils.
Light: This plant enjoys full sun to light shade and loves heat. Best growth and flower production is in full sun. It gets leggy in shade and blooming is reduced.
Moisture: Peacock flower is drought tolerant once established, but performs best with regular irrigation while blooming.
Hardiness: Even under frost free conditions Peacock flower may lose some of its leaves when temperatures drop to 50-40°F (10-5°C), but it recovers quickly. It can also survive a yearly freeze. Peacock flower dies to the ground following periods of mild frost, but it comes back reliable, albeit late, in middle spring. Don’t give up on it! Peacock flower has survived temperatures as low as 18°F (-7.8°C). It can be grown as an annual in colder climates.
Propagation: Peacock flower is easy to start from seeds. Germination will be speeded up if the seeds are nicked with a file before planting. Under good growing conditions, peacock flower will self sow or spread by root suckers (not invasive though). Soak seed in warm water for 24 hours before sowing. Sow into pots or trays of moist soilbased potting mix and cover with a fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Place in a propagator or warm place, and keep at a constant temperature of between 20-25C (68- 77F). After sowing, do not exclude light as this helps germination. Keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged; germination can take 1-4 months.
Pruning: Peacock flower benefits from pruning, and can be shaped to tree form or shrubby bush form. It grows quickly before flowering, but while flowering growth virtually stops. Prune to any desired height in late autumn or winter to control height and spread. To get a bushier, more compact shrub you can even cut Peacock flower to the ground in winter andwill recover nicely. It flowers on new wood so do not prune in the spring as this could delay flowering until September, meaning four to five months of flowering loss.
Red Bird of Paradise is the National flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, and is depicted on the Queen’s personal Barbadian flag.
The flower is considered sacred to the Siva of India and the Hindus think it is very much sacrosanct.
Food: All seeds of Caesalpinia are poisonous. However the seeds of some species are edible before the seed reach maturity (e.g immature seeds of C. pulcherrima) or with treatment (C. bonduc toxicity is reduced after roasting).
Is an antioxidant – that scavenges free radicals and prevents LDL cholesterol from being damaged. Behaves like an antihistamine. May help protect against heart disease and cancer. Falvonoids found in the plant possess anti-inflammatory activities.
1. Helps in cases of cholera.
2. For abortion
3. To prevent recurrence of diseases, like malaria.
4. Promotes menstrual flow.
5. As a purgative or the watery evacuation of the bowels.
6. For producing energy.
7. To relieve chest affections.
8. To reduce or eliminate fever.
9. Widely used for the cure of bronchitis, asthma and for malarial fevers.
How to Use:
The decoction of the roots is given for cholera.
The infusion of the leaves or the bark is used for abortion.
The infusion of the leaves is used to prevent recurrence like malaria, promote menstrual flow, work as a purgative, and for producing energy.
The infusion of the flowers is used to relieve chest affections, reduce or eliminate fever, cure bronchitis, asthma and malarial fevers.
A combination of the roots, bark, and leaves may be boiled into a medicinal tea, which is given to patients as a treatment for fever, jaundice, kidney disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. Gargling with the tea is also said to treat sores in the mouth or throat.
A liquid extracted from the flowers of the plant is often used topically as an eye wash or applied to the body as an insecticide. The liquid is sometimes consumed to treat a variety of other conditions. Patients with severe gastrointestinal disorders, including dysentery or severe diarrhea, may also be given the fruit of the plant, which is said to have astringent properties, to eat. These properties help the plant to dry out the intestinal tract.
The plant is known, however, to be an antiseptic and an anti-inflammatory. These qualities may make it useful in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders and internal or external wounds.
Preliminary medical studies have also indicated that Caesalpinia pulcherrima may also assist in weight loss. Mice given enzymes that are found in this plant were able to lose weight at a faster rate than the mice in the control group. Despite its potential medicinal uses.
Maroon medicine men in Suriname have long known some of the medicinal uses for Caesalpinia pulcherrima, which is known as ayoowiri. Four grams from the root is also said to induce abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Most references say that peacock flower is poisonous, but people in central Africa do eat the seeds, presumably after boiling in several changes of water. Don’t plant this sharply thorny shrub near pedestrian traffic.
Caesalpinia pulcherrima is also known to be toxic at certain doses, and it may be dangerous for patients to use folk cures that include this plant.
Toxicity: Toxic to Dogs, Toxic to Cats, Toxic to Horses
Toxic Principles: GI Irritants, Tannins
Clinical Signs: Vomiting and diarrhea.
Common name: Poinsettia, Christmas Plant painted leaf, Lobster Plant, Mexican Flame Leaf, Flame-leaf flower, Crown of the Andes, Aztecs: Cuitlaxochitl, Mexico and Guatemala: La Flor de la Nochebuena (Flower of the Holy Night), Spanish: Flor de Pascua, Egypt: Bent El Consul, Japanese: Poinsechia, Shoujouboku, Danish: Julestjerne, French: Euphorbe écarlate, German: Weihnachtsstern, Malay: Dènok, Kastooba, Ratjoonan, Portuguese : Flor-de-papagaio, Folha-de-sangue, Russian: Molochai krasivyeishij, Swedish: Julstjärna, Chinese: Xing xing mu, Lao lai jiao, Thai: Cheu eun, Poh pan, Song ra-doo
Hindi: Lal pate
Tamil: Ilai paddi, Mayil kaḷḷi,
Botanical name: Euphorbia pulcherrima
Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)
Species: E. pulcherrima
Synonyms: Pionsettia Pulchenima
Pascuas is an erect, sparingly, and laxly branched shrub, 2 to 4 meters high. Leaves are elliptic to oblong-elliptic or the upper ones lanceolate, 10 to 18 centimeters, the lower ones entirely green, obscurely repand or slightly lobed, long-petioled, slightly hairy beneath, the upper ones, at the time of flowering, uniformly bright-red. Inflorescence is terminal. Involucres are ovoid, about 1 centimeter long, the margins toothed, each with one or two large, yellow glands. Flowers are crowded.
The bright petals of Poinsettias, which look like flowers, are actually the bunch of upper leaves of the plant, called bracts. Poinsettia flowers are small, green or yellow, and grow inconspicuously in the center of each leaf bunch. Poinsettias are sub-tropical plants and therefore wither if the night temperature falls below 10 degrees C (50 degrees F). The day time temperatures in excess of 21 degrees C (70 degrees F) shorten the lifespan of Poinsettias.
The yellow flowers, or cyathia, are in the center of the colorful bracts. The plant drops its bracts and leaves soon after those flowers shed their pollen. For the longest-lasting Poinsettias, choose plants with little or no yellow pollen showing.
The Poinsettia has a short, thick trunk and rough, brown bark. The branches are slender and green and spread into an open bush formation, bearing most of their leaves towards the end. New leaves are soft, bronze and downy, later becoming green and then hard and leathery, deeply scored by the veins. Each branchlet ends with a circle of bracts surrounding a small cluster of “flowers.” The bracts are about 12.5 cm. long and half that in width.
The colors of the bracts are created through “photoperiodism“, meaning that they require darkness (12 hours at a time for at least five days in a row) to change color. On the other hand, once Poinsettias finish that process, the plants require abundant light during the day for the brightest color.
In colder climates, Poinsettias are grown as indoor plants. As indoor plants, Poinsettias need exposure to the morning sun and shade during the hotter part of the day. Poinsettias are one the most difficult to reflower after the initial display when purchased. Poinsettias need a period of uninterrupted long, light-free nights for about two months in early spring in order to develop flowers.
They are found in the wild in deciduous tropical forest at moderate elevations from southern Sinaloa down the entire Pacific coast of Mexico to Chiapas and Guatemala. They are also found in the interior of Mexico in the hot, seasonally dry forests of Gurerro and Oxaca Now it is found in most parts of the world, in greenhouses in the colder climes and out-of-doors in tropical and sub-tropical countries like the Indian subcontinent. It is very popular in Australia, Malta, Egypt and Turkey.
It came originally from Mexico and was named after Ambassador Poinsett of South Carolina, who brought the first plants from there in the middle of the 19th Century.
There are many varieties all with the same peculiarity — extreme degeneration of the flowers. The coloured leaves are not part of the flowers but just bracts, brightly coloured to attract insects as in the Bougainvilleas and other plants. The rounded, bud-like formations, with up-standing stamens and peculiar lateral protuberances are not flowers at all but clusters of degenerated flowers. Each “stamen” is all that exists of a male flower, and the bulky “pistil” is all there is of a whole female flower.
Some of the varieties are very far removed from our gay garden plant, being nothing but roadside weeds. Others are like miniatures with only a small area of scarlet, others have no scarlet at all but an ugly greenish-yellow instead. Horticulturists have introduced still more varieties, so now we have double forms, forms where the red is replaced by pink or yellow or white and some with variegated leaves. But any of these is an improvement on the original crimson.
Facts About Poinsettias
Poinsettias also bloom in cream, lemon, peach, pink colors and with white and gold-splashed leaves. There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today. Poinsettias come in colors like the traditional red, white, pink, burgundy, marbled and speckled.
Poinsettias are perennial flowering shrubs that were once considered weeds.
Euphorbia pulcherrima, means “the most beautiful Euphorbia“.
Poinsettia was named after the former US ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel R. Poinsett who introduced the Poinsettia to the United States.
Poinsettias, at times, reach a height of sixteen feet.
Poinsettias are also known by other names such as ‘Christmas flower‘, ‘lobster flower’, and ‘Mexican flame leaf‘.
The Paul Ecke Ranch in California grows over 70% of all Poinsettias purchased in the United States and does about 50% of the world-wide sales of Poinsettias.
December 12th is Poinsettia Day, which marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett in 1851.
In Mexico, the Poinsettia is displayed in celebration of the “Dia de la Virgen“, which is also coincidentally, December 12th.
The Aztecs used the Poinsettia bracts to make a reddish purple dye for fabrics, and used the sap medicinally to control fevers.
Poinsettias contribute over $250 million to the U.S. economy at the retail level.
California is the top U.S. Poinsettia-producing state.
Poinsettias are the best selling potted plant in the United States and Canada.
Poinsettias are susceptible to several diseases, mostly fungal, but also bacterial and parasitic.
The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication.In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl (from cuetlatl, residue, and xochitl, flower) meaning “flower that grows in residues or soil.” Today it is known in Mexico as “Flor de Noche Buena“, meaning Christmas Eve Flower. In Spain, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and other Central America countries it is known as “Flor de Pascua” or “Pascua” meaning “Easter flower”. In Chile and Peru, the plant became known as “Crown of the Andes“. In Turkey, it is called Atatürk’s Flower because Atatürk, the founder of the Republic, liked this flower and made a significant contribution to its cultivation for it to become widespread in Turkey. This name is given by botanists who took place in the beginning of its cultivation in Turkey.
Poinsettias & Christmas
The ancient Aztecs (the Mexican Indians) prized the Poinsettia as a symbol of purity. Centuries later, Mexico’s early Christians adopted the Poinsettia as their prized Christmas Eve flower. The Mexican Poinsettia, known as the Christmas flower in North America, is used in most Christmas decorations, owing to its bright red color and its blooming season coinciding with the Christmas holiday season.
The Mexican poinsettias are commonly bright red. For some, these star-shaped bracts symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The Christmas Poinsettia flowers have become a symbol of Christmas and are used as festive decor.
A Mexican legend explains how Poinsettias came to be associated with Christmas. Apparently, a child who could not afford a gift to offer to Christ on Christmas Eve picked some weeds from the side of a road. The child was told that a humble gift, if given in love, would be acceptable in God’s eyes. When brought into the church, the weeds bloomed into red and green flowers and the congregation felt that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle.
Triterpenes in the latex of E pulcherrima.
Bracts yield a resin, a yellow and red coloring-matter, essential oil, tartaric acid, gallic acid, gum, glucose, sucrose, starch, and salts.
Bark yields a red coloring principle; bracts yield a scarlet dye.
Leaf yields alkaloids, saponins, sulfur, fat, amilodextrin, and formic acid.
Leaves applied as poultice for erysipelas and a variety of cutaneous problems.
Latex is poisonous and causes irritation in wounds.
Infusion of flowers used as galactagogue.
Plants used as emetic and cathartic.
In Mexico, decoction of bracts taken by nursing women to increase the flow of milk, although the practice is considered dangerous by some.
Infusion of flowers prescribed as galatagogue.
Plant used as emeto-cathartic.
In Indonesia, the racunan plant (E. pulcherrima) is used as emetic, emmenagogue, and galactagogue, for treating tuberculosis, skin infections, and fractures.
Studies: Cytotoxic Testing • Antibacterial • Phytochemicals • Bactericide / Chitosan • Anticonvulsant / Antinociceptive • Antibacterial / Antinociceptive
Recent research has proved that Poinsettias are not poisonous.
Poinsettias are not poisonous. A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 500 leaves to have any harmful effect. Plus poinsettia leaves have an awful taste. You might want to keep your pets from snacking on poinsettia leaves. Eating the leaves can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Contact dermatitis: Reports of contact dermatitis associated with EP simulating a phototoxic reaction.
Latex is very caustic and poisonous, severely irritating to wounds, and extremely dangerous to the eyes.
A characteristic of many poisonous plants, it should be noted, is a milky-white sap which exudes from a part or all of the plant when cut. Poinsettia is no exception and one should exercise great care in handling cut branches. Both leaves and bracts droop very quickly after cutting; so if the sprays are required for indoor decoration, the cut ends should be immediately plunged into boiling water to the depth of 5 cm. This will preserve their freshness for a considerable time.
The Poinsettia requires full sun and good drainage and should be cut down to about 30cm. after flowering. This is essential if large, compact shrubs, 2.5 to 3m. high, are expected the following season. Cuttings root readily.
Many plants in the Euphorbiaceae family ooze a milky sap. Some people with latex allergies have had a skin reaction (most likely to the sap) after touching the leaves. For pets, the poinsettia sap may cause mild irritation or nausea. Probably best to keep pets away from the plant, especially puppies and kittens.
Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are popular potted plants, particularly during the Christmas season. Brightly colored and mostly red, a Poinsettia provides effective color in home decor during and after the holiday season. The newer Poinsettia cultivars are long-lasting in contrast to the cultivars that were available a few years ago. Christmas charm is what these amazing Poinsettias hold. As there are few flowers to brighten our gardens around Christmas time, the flamboyant Poinsettia, with its bright red bracts, is deservedly popular.
turning to molten gold…
a wake up call
in scarlet sky
a blooming flower…
smell of dawn
rising behind me…
your eyes’ reflection