Saturday, February 20, 2010

The French Marigold

The French Marigold Tagetes patula is a favourite of butterflies. The plant flowers profusely . It is well suited for planting in the edge of a border as it is short.

The flowers are in colours ranging from yellow to a rich bronze.
The French marigold, like its cousin tne African marigold, is prized by farmers because it is a pest repellant. Planting a row of it near your vegetable patch will deter the white flies.
A tea is made from its leaves , which is thought to be refreshing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


The Frangipani Plumeria alba is a native of tropical America which has naturalized itself all over the tropics. It is called Champa in Hindi and Deva Kanigile in Kannada. Its name in Kannada means 'Oleander of the gods'. It is also called the 'Temple tree.' The funny thing is, it is never offered in Hindu temples. South Indian women who wear all kinds of flowers in their hair, never wear this flower!
The plumeria tree is a small tree which can resist drought. The flowers have a heavenly scent, which becomes more noticeable during the night. The frangipani flowers have no nectar, and so the attract their pollinators, a type of moths , by their scent and luminous colour.Even the fallen flowers retain the scent.
All parts of the Plumeria tree are poisonous.
The Frangipani is the national flower of Laos, where it is called Champa.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pencil Tree

The Pencil Tree Euphorbia tirucalli is a native of Africa, which has naturalized itself in India since thousands of years . Probably brought to India by the Arab traders in the distant past, its name Tirucalli is an Indian name given to it by Linnaeus. The name Euphorbia is in honour of the 1st century physician Euphorbus, who practiced in the court of King Juba of Mauritania.
Tirucalli has very few leaves, since its pencil like green branches photosynthesise its food.The flowers are yellow and insignificant. Its latex is poisonous, so animals do not eat it, making it a favourite hedge plant inthe countryside.
The Pencil Tree has many uses in folk medicine. It is also used to make bio- diesel.
In south India, villagers use it as a plant of good omen in all their auspicious ceremonies.