Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dangerous Plants

Yesterday morning, when I woke up, I could not see anything clearly with my right eye. Everything was in a haze, I could not even see the wall clock with my right eye, but I could see everything clearly with my left eye. When the situation did not improve even after washing my eyes repeatedly, I became panicky.I took an appointment with my Ophtholmologist and met her at 10.30 a.m.

She did lots of tests and peered into my eyes with her instruments. Fortunately for me, her friend, a cornea specialist was also present there, who too peered into my eyes. He asked me whether I did a lot of gardening. I said yes, and he told me that there were multiple abrasions on my right cornea, caused by plant juices. He prescribed some steroid eye drops
which I have to continue using for 3 weeks. I have been thinking about the poisonous plants I handle daily, and here are some. The lantana in the topmost picture with its cheerful flowers, is a poisonous plant. All parts of the Nerium Oleander whose flowers I gather every day, are very poisonous. The Brugmansia plant is very poisonous, but its flowers are very beautiful.

The plant of the tomato, which I pulled out the day before , is also poisonous. I have a sneaking suspicion that the plant juices of the tomato have caused the injury to my eye.
There are many other mild and strong toxic plants in my garden, which I handle every day.I have learnt one important thing from this experience: If some plant juice gets into your eyes, you must immediately wash your eyes with water. That way, the risk of injuring your eyes are minimised.
My right eye has improved a bit, and today, I can see the wall clock, and also tell the time using my right eye.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Barleria cristata is flowering in all the gardens now. It has flowers in a range of colours from purple to pink to white. Little girls make garlands with the flowers and wear them in their hair.
The yellow Barleria Barleria prionitis is a wild flower which grows in vacant plots.It is an important plant used by the practitioners of Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine. It is know as Vajradanti in Sanskrit. The name means "Diamond Teeth". Yes, the plant is used for relieving tooth ache. It is claimed that if you brush your teeth with a paste made of the leaves and roots of this plant daily, your teeth will be as hard as diamonds. The leaves of the plant have germicidal properties. They are used in beauty preparations and shampoos. The plant is used for relieving fever and joint pain.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sickle Bush

The dense forests of the Papanasam Tiger Reserve were dotted with the beautiful Sickle Bushes in full bloom. The Mimosa like tree is short, and its flowers are half pink and half yellow. The tree is quite small and the flowers attract small birds and butterflies.
The Sickle Bush Dichrostachys cinerea would look well in a garden, but for some reason, it has not attracted nurserymen. It is known locally as khairi.
Like all Indian native plants, it is used in Ayurveda, the Indian medicine system.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


The common Broom is found in the Himalayan regions of India. It is full of yellow flowers in spring and summer in the hillsides. It has royal connections. The Plantagenet kings of England took their name from the Latin name of the broom, Planta genista., and the plant itself was the royal emblem. The plant is considered unlucky, so you don't see it in gardens in India.
The strong scent of the flowers were thought to tame wild horses.
The broom is a host plant for the larvae of some butterflies.