A flowering Jasmine tree.
Visitors wanting to experience the colourful palette of flowering plants in India are advised to visit during the spring and summer seasons. There are over 15 000 species of flowering plants alone, including the national flower, the Lotus. Other popular species are Bougainvillea, Orchids and several rose varieties. These flowers often have medicinal uses, or are simply used for decoration.
The Lotus Plant is a water plant and is also known as the Indian Lotus, Sacred Water Lily, Bean of India and Kamala. Its scientific name is Nelumbo nucifera. Its flowers are very fragrant and they float on the water amongst their broad, flat leaves. The petals are light pink and white and the leaves are large (sometimes reaching in excess of 50 centimetres in diameter). This beautiful flower opens with the rising sun and closes as darkness descends. It can be found in all of India, flourishing in damp soil. The Lotus Plant signifies fertility, wealth and knowledge as well as victory, a long life and good luck. It has the following uses:
• Good for the kidneys and heart
• Increases male sexual functions
• Cures restlessness
• Aids in heart palpitations and insomnia
• Antidote for mushroom poisoning
• The leaves are used to treat sunstroke, fever, vomiting and dysentery
• The seeds, leaves, tubers and leaf stalks are edible Jasmine is one of the most exquisitely fragranced of flowers in the world. Its scientific name is Jasminum sambac (L.) Aiton, but it is also known as Moghra, Mallika and the Moonshine in the Garden. It is an evergreen shrub with white flowers, vining stems and oval leaves. It is common in the whole of India, as well as in many other countries in the world. It flourishes in warm conditions and with frequent pruning. Jasmine can be used for:
• Removing worms in the intestines
• Easing venereal diseases
• Treating ulcers, boils, eye disorders and skin diseases
• Fighting cancer
• Perfumes, creams, shampoos and soaps
The Hophead, or Philippine Violet, is from the Acanthaceae family and is very popular for its medicinal uses. Its scientific name is Barleria lupulina. It is characterised by its dark leaves, reddish branches and flowers on the end of a spiky stem. These can be used for the treatment of:
• Insect bites
• Centipede Bites
The Water Willow’s scientific name is Justicia procumbens. It is a perennial herb with slender stems, elliptical leaves, pink flowers and an unpleasant odour. It bears a hairy fruit that measures 4 millimetres in length. It is used in the treatment of:
Snake Jasmine (also known as Dainty Spurs) is native to India. Its scientific name is Rhinacanthus nasutus and it is from the Acanthaceae family. It is a hairy shrub with oblong leaves and clustered flowers. The flower is mainly white in colour with some brown dots the base. Medicinal uses of the Snake Jasmine include the treatment of:
• Dhobie’s itch
• Antidote for snake bites
Some people also believe that Snake Jasmine has aphrodisiac powers.