Know Your Flora | You May Come Across These Beauties On Your Next Trip

Ditch all those stress balls, meditation apps and punching down walls. The best therapy you can find is by being among the presence of flowers. The serenity and peacefulness is all you need to kill your fatigue.

Kerala is known for its dense forests, filled with lush flora and rare fauna. Trekking or backpacking among them is said to be an adventure of a lifetime.  The variety of plants living amongst the thick green leaves always attracted a lot of botanists, nature lovers and photographers.

Aglaia perviridis (Cheru chokla)

Nilgiri Rudraksh is a tree up to 13 m tall, with bole buttressed; young branches and leaves covered with rusty velvety hairs. Leaves are simple, alternate and clustered at the tip of branchlets.  Leaf blades are ovate or ovate-oblong, folded back, boat-shaped, base pointed, wedge-shaped, tip pointed or caudate. Flowers are bisexual, white, in short racemes in leaf-axils, up to 7 cm. Nilgiri Rudraksh is endemic to Southern Western Ghats confined to the Anamalai, Palani and Nilgiris.

Source : Google Images

Datura stramonium or jimsonweed ( Ummam, ഉമ്മം)

Datura stramonium, also known as jimsonweed or devil’s snare is a plant in the nightshade family. They has been used in traditional medicine to relieve asthma symptoms and as an analgesic during surgery or bonesetting. It is also a powerful hallucinogen and deliriant, which is used as an entheogen for the intense visions it produces. The root is long, thick, fibrous, and white. The stem is stout, erect, leafy, smooth, and pale yellow-green. The stem forks off repeatedly into branches, and each fork forms a leaf and a single, erect flower.

Source : Google Images

Ricinus communis (Chittamankku or Avanakkanna)

Ricinus communis, the castor bean or castor oil plant, is a species of perennial flowering plant in the spurge family. Its seed is the castor bean, which, despite its name, is not a true bean. Castor seed is the source of castor oil, which has a wide variety of uses. Ricinus communis can vary greatly in its growth habit and appearance. The variability has been increased by breeders who have selected a range of cultivars for leaf and flower colours, and for oil production.

The glossy leaves are 15cm long, long-stalked, alternate and palmate with five to twelve deep lobes with coarsely toothed segments. The flowers are borne in terminal panicle-like inflorescences of green or, in some varieties, shades of red, monoecious flowers without petals. The fruit is a spiny, greenish (to reddish-purple) capsule containing large, oval, shiny, bean-like, highly poisonous seeds with variable brownish mottling.

Source : Google Images

Casearia wynadensis (Kari-kunnan)

Casearia wynadensis is a species of plant in the Salicaceae family. It is native to Kerala and Tamil Nadu in India.

Cynometra beddomei (Cherukoori)

Cynometra beddomei is a species of tree in the Fabaceae family. It was described from a single tree in the Kerala Western Ghats of India, occasional in the western part of Agasthyamalai Region in South Sahyadri and rare in Wynaad and Coorg Regions in Central Sahyadri. In 1998 it was declared extinct as it had never been seen again since 1870.
Trees of the species have subsequently been identified in several parts of Kerala and southern Karnataka but the IUCN status has not been updated. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Source : Google Images

Elaeocarpus recurvatus (Rudraksham)

Elaeocarpus recurvatus is a species of flowering plant in the Elaeocarpaceae family. It is found only in India. It is threatened by habitat loss. Branches have the architecture of “Aubreville model”; branchlets terete with fallen leaf scars, lenticellate, rusty or greyish stellate tomentose. Its leaves are simple, alternate, spiral, clustered at twig ends, elliptic, folded boat-shaped, apex acute to shortly acuminate.

Source : Google Images

Garcinia indica (കാട്ടമ്പി kaattampi)

Garcinia indica, a plant in the mangosteen family (Clusiaceae), commonly known as kokum, is a fruit-bearing tree that has culinary, pharmaceutical, and industrial uses.  The tree is ornamental, with a dense canopy of green leaves and red-tinged, tender, young leaves. The oily extract called kokum tel is used in foot massage, and to treat burns.  The most important health benefits of Garcinia indica include its ability to speed wound healing, prevent chronic disease, reduce allergic reactions, optimize digestion, protect the skin, boost the immune system, relieve pain, and eliminate inflammation.

Source : Google Images

Homalium jainii (Manthalamukhi)

Homalium jainii is a species of plant in the Salicaceae family. It is endemic to Tamil Nadu in India. It is known only from the type collection in the Agastyamalai Hills. One of the major threats they face is forest fires, grazing, the establishment of commercial plantations and cutting for fuelwood.

Source : Google Images

Osbeckia aspera ( kaattukadali – കാട്ടുകദളി )

Osbeckia aspera, the rough osbeckia or rough small-leaved spider flower, is a plant species in the genus Osbeckia of the family Melastomataceae. It is native to India and Sri Lanka. Leaves are elliptic-lanceolate, base attenuate with more or less velvet-hairy on both sides. Flowers are pink in colour, show terminal cymes inflorescence. Fruits are a single-seeded capsule.

Source : Google Images

Psychotria beddomei

Psychotria beddomei is a species of plant in the Rubiaceae family. It is endemic to Kerala in India.  Known only from the type collection, this small tree is recorded from a restricted area in the Agastyamalai Hills.

Source : Google Images

Paphiopedilum druryi

Paphiopedilum druryi is a species of orchid endemic to the Travancore Hills of southern India. It is the only southern Indian orchid species in the genus.  Paphiopedilum druryii is very local and very rare with a restricted distribution on the Agastamalaya Hills.  The trend of the population is decreasing and the abundance of the species has been significantly reduced in recent decades. Many subpopulations have been stripped quickly due to threats including ruthless collection for regional and international trade, exploitation for horticultural and medicinal purposes, habitat degradation, human disturbance, trampling, deforestation, fires and tourism.

Source : Google Images

If you come across them during your trip, make sure to capture these gems. These beauties are rare and endangered in the wild and most of them are currently protected. Try not to hurt them to harshly. Humans have been going against them already.


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