Saturday, November 28, 2009


Caraonda Carissa carandas is a native thorny bush found all over India. The leaves are an attractive bronze colour when young. Its fruit is much loved by birds and humans. The pretty pink berries turn deep red and purple. The sour fruit is made into jelly, preserves and pickles which are great favourites .
The flowers of the Caraonda resemble jasmine, and are sweet scented. The plant flowers twice a year. Although Caraonda is a jungle plant, people plant it ar the edge of their property for the fruit . It makes an effective hedge as its thorns can stop humans and cattle. Its root is supposed to keep away snakes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Giant Cane

A stream runs through the northern edge of the suburb where I live. Long time ago, it was a fresh water stream which fed the vegetable gardens . Now it is a malodorous and polluted stream carrying mainly the discharge from various factories. The water treatment Plant upstream makes sure that it does not become a dead creek. The Giant Cane, Arundo donax along its banks is another thing which keeps the creek full of fish and birds.
The Giant Cane is a native of India, which has naturalised itself in many tropical and sub tropical lands. In some places, it is considered a pest as it uses up large amounts of water.
The Giant Cane has been used to make flutes since 5000 years. Reeds of the woodwind instruments like the oboe, clarinet and saxophone are made from this plant. It is also used as a bio fuel. Animals do not eat it as it contains toxins like silica. The plant is rich in the alkaloid tryptamine.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Snake Jasmine

The white flowers of the Snake Jasmine Rhinacanthus nasutus bloom profusely in winter, making the bush look as though it is speckled with yoghurt.
This is a native Indian flower, native to the Western Ghats. The flowers have no smell. It is a nice plant to have in a small garden as it flowers profusely from November to March, until the Jasmines take over.
The roots of the Snake Jasmine are believed to possess extraordinary aphrodisiac qualities. The leaves and roots are used for skin infections. Theplant gets its name from the shape of the flower , which looks like the hood of a cobra, and also because the roots are used as an antidote for snake venom.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Aubergine, the King of Vegetables

The Egg plant, or aubergine is called in Brinjal in India. It is considered to be the king of vegetables because it wears a crown!Belonging to the same family as the potato and the tomato, the Solanum melongena was first domesticated in India. It was introduced to Europe by the Arabs who monopolised the spice trade with India. It is called the Egg plant in some parts of the world because some of its fruit are egg shaped.
Many varieties of the Aubergine are cultivatd in India, ranging from deep purple to white.I grow the two pale varieties shown above. The aubergine I like best is the huge, dark purple one grown in North India during winter. You can roast it in fire, peel it and add some onions and tomatoes and green chillies to make a dish called Baigan Bharta.

The long green brinjal is famous in these parts for its taste. It has white flowers.The white egg-shaped egg plant is called 'black brinjal', because its leaves have black veins. The flowers are purple.

The whole plant of the aubergine is used in Chinese medicine to stop intestinal bleeding.