Flowers and Trees Icon

January 31, 2022

FLOWERS

Flowers are grown for their beauty, fragrance, essential oil, medicinal value and floral nectar, and some flower seeds can be eaten, used in cooking or processed to produce oil. For example, flowering plants like night jasmine (shephali or Nyctanthes arbortristis) and ghandharaj can be grown for their fragrant flowers, while sunflower has edible seeds and can be grown as an oil crop or roadside plant.

Flowering trees such as bakphul (Sesbania grandifloria) can also be grown along roadsides or in beauty spots.

Some plants which have attractive or useful flowers include:

  • rose (guláb)
  • magnolia (campá)
  • queen crepe myrtle (járul)
  • safflower (kusum, Carthamus tinctorius)
  • poppy
  • kaiṋcan
  • shveta karabii

Rose (Guláb)

Rose is one of the most popular flowers in the world. It is grown throughout India, including Ánanda Nagar, although it is difficult to grow in a hot climate. Rose oil and essence are quite common. Roses need five requirements to grow properly – a dry environment, sunshine, cold, laterite soil and calcium.

Magnolia (Campá)

Magnolia is common in India and the liquid extract often used for making scent (ittar), perfume, incense and other scented products.

Queen Crepe Myrtle (Járul)

Queen crepe myrtle is grown as a roadside plant at Ánanda Nagar. A violet extract used in dyeing can be made from the flower.

Safflower (Kusum, Carthamus tinctorius)

Safflower has a yellow-pink flower and thorns. It is a winter crop. Non-poisonous food colouring can be made from the petals, and sweet-scented edible oil can be made from the seeds. The colour extracts from aparajita (Clitoria tarnatea), night jasmine (Nyctanthes arbortristis) and safflower are non-poisonous.

Research should be done on safflower to produce colour extract commercially, increase the flower production and the percentage of oil in the seeds, and improve the quality and range of colours in the flowers.

Poppy

Poppy has many varieties and is grown for its flowers and seeds.

Varieties of poppy may be cultivated in one or two rows around a wheat field. Poppy should not be cultivated with early boro paddy because if the water level in the paddy field suddenly rises, the poppy crop might be destroyed.

One variety of poppy is the source of opium. Opium poppy needs extremes of temperature to grow properly.

In India, opium poppy cultivation requires the prior approval of the government.

Research on opium poppy and any other narcotic plant such as Cannabis indica (ganga), or their cultivation, should not be done on our integrated farming projects.

Research on opium poppy should be conducted by the government.

Kaiṋcan

Kaiṋcan is a small flowering tree which is often used as a boundary plant. Shveta Karabii Shveta Karabii is a decorative flower plant which grows to a height of about feet. It is used as a boundary plant.

TREES

Some common trees include:

  • banyan (bat́)
  • ámlá (Emblica officinalis)
  • Acasia babul (gond)
  • shiriish
  • kusum (Oleosa schleichera)
  • arjun ((Terminalia arjuna)
  • Indian laburum (sondál, Cassia fiftula)
  • Palásh
  • Acasia catechu (khayer)
  • screw pine (ketakii, keorá, Pandanus)
  • Tál Kát́ál (Thai ragam, dalacca)
  • Tamarind (teṋtul)
  • Indian rosewood (shál, Daldergia latifolia)
  • piyá shál (Pterocarpus marsupium)
  • garjan (Dipterocarpus alatus)
  • betel nut (supári)

Banyan (Bat́)

The banyan tree is sometimes known as “the pillar tree” in English because aerial roots which look like pillars grow from the branches down into the ground.

When the aerial roots are fully grown, one banyan tree can look like a dense forest. No other plants can grow amongst the aerial roots of old banyan trees which often extend over a large area.

The soft tip of the aerial root (juri) is a good medicine for blood dysentery, mucus dysentery and leukemia when it is ground with water that has been used to wash rice.

Banyan may be planted at the end of a slope, beside rivers or in extremely rocky areas. Banyan should be planted 20 feet from each other along the line where a slope ends and the sandy bank of a river begins.

When banyan is planted in this way it helps check soil erosion, although Chinese banyan does not check soil erosion as well as Indian banyan.

Between every 2 banyan trees, one Indian palmyra (tál) tree should be planted. The Indian banyan lives for 2000 to 6000 years, while the Indian palmyra lives for 120 years. The Indian palmyra also checks erosion. Banyan and Indian palmyra should be planted together on all integrated farming projects to prevent riverside erosion.

The method for planting banyan is as follows. Make a small pit and plant the banyan seedling in it. Water the plant regularly for one month, but when new leaves appear the watering can be discontinued. However, bonsai banyan and Chinese banyan require continued watering after the first month. If the seedling dies, replace it with a larger one.

Ámlá (Emblica Officinalis)

Ámlá bears a fruit which is similar to a plum. Oil can be pressed from the seed. Scented ámlá oil can be made by adding floral fragrances.

Acasia Babul (Gond)

Acasia babul is common in India.

The sap can be mixed with other ingredients to produce glue. Lozenges can also be made from the juice after it has been refined.

Shiriish

Shiriish is a boundary plant which produces good quality wood.

Kusum (Oleosa Schleichera)

Kusum is sometimes referred to as “the lac tree” in English because it is a host to lac insects. It should not be confused with safflower, the kusum flower.

Arjuna (Terminalia Arjuna)

Arjuna can be used as a roadside tree. Tasar silk worms can be grown on it, and the wood is often used for furniture. Indian Laburnum (Sondál, Cassia Fiftula) The fruit of Indian laburum is called “banda lathi” in Bengali because it looks like a large lathi or stick. It can be used as a boundary plant.

Palásh

Palásh is an important lac host.

Acasia Catechu (Khayer)

Acasia catechu is also known as “the cutch tree” in English. The gum should not be used for making lozenges, but is an ingredient for making glue. Kattha, one of the ingredients for making pán (betel leaf for chewing), can be made from it.

Screw Pine (Ketakii, Keorá, Pandanus) Screw pine is known as “ketaki” in Saḿskrta and “keorá” in Hindi and Bengali. There are many varieties, such as ram ban kewada and naga ketaki. Both these varieties help to prevent soil erosion. The screw pine lives for 2000 years and grows well in rocky areas and along the banks of rivers. It likes moist air. Scent is made from the flowers and the wood is also useful.

Tál Kát́ál (Thai Ragam, Dalacca) Tál Kát́ál is a palm which is useful as an intermittent boundary plant. The wood may be used to construct furniture.

Tamarind (Tentut) The roots of tamarind are very fibrous. It is an important riverside tree because the fibrous roots help check erosion. However, the trees gives off bad air, so it should be planted with simul and neem, which give off good air, to balance this effect. The sour fruit is beneficial for the health and is widely used in cooking and confectionery. Tamarind is very popular in South India. Indian Rosewood (Shál, Dalbergia Latifolia) Indian rosewood can be used to produce wood, latex, floral nectar, tasar silk, oil, etc. The fruit and leaves are also useful. It is a common roadside tree. Piyá Shál (Pterocarpus Marsupium) Piyá shál is used to produce wood. Bees also like the flowers. Garjan (Dipterocarpus Alatus) Garjan is sometimes called “the mangrove tree”. It is a useful roadside plant, and is used to produce wood and oil. Betel Nut (Supári) Betel nut is a popular chewing nut in South Asia and particularly India. The nut is mixed with betel leaf, lime, etc. and chewed until the saliva turns red. It is a static stimulant and should not be eaten by those following a sentient diet. It is a plant of the palm group and requires a lot of rain or water, but it cannot tolerate waterlogging. It grows well on the slopes of Assam. Betel leaf is a creeper which does not require tilling. Betel leaf should not be confused with betel nut. Some varieties of betel leaf include:

báḿlá pán cháchi pán miit́há pán Magahii pán Ghunghat́ pán ROADSIDE PLANTS

Some examples of roadside planting combinations grown at Ánanda Nagar include:

  • alternately mango seedlings and eucalyptus ( M + E + M + E …)
  • palmyras of different varieties and selected mango seedlings of different varieties planted alternately ( M + P + M + P …)
  • mango seedlings and date palm. The date palm should be of the Gujarati and Videhi varieties. (D + B + D + B …)
  • date palms of different varieties and blackberries of different varieties. (D+B+D+B…)
  • palmyra and different varieties of shade trees, both Indian and non-Indian. (P+S1+P+S2…)
  • ebony (ablus), queen crepe myrtle (járul), mahagony, teak (segun). (E+Q+M+S…)
  • selected mango seedlings and silk cotton of different varieties. (M+S+M+S…)
  • mango and silk cotton with date palm of different varieties and a few banyan trees. Between the banyan trees a few palmyra should be planted instead of date palm. For example, (M+D1+S+M+B+P+B+S+M+D2+S…)

late maple trees in between date palm. (M+D+M+D…) chinar with intermittent date palm. (C+D+C+D…) magnolias mixed with all type of palms. One palm between every two magnolias, including domá tál, African palm, and African oil palm. different shade trees of Indian and non-Indian varieties.

Existing roadside plants should not be destroyed. As a fixed rule agave ahould be the fill-up plant in the case of all the road trees. Tál can also be planted along roadsides. Above the gates of compounds an arch of creepers such as nayan paiṋjana (bouganvillea), madavilata and madhurilata should be planted. Seasonal plants that can be grown in sunny spots, on roof tops and beside roads include calendula, poppy, double zinnia, pansy, carnation and cosmos.

These plants can be obtained from Holland and Belgium. Orchids should not be planted on roadside trees but anywhere else in beauty spots.

February 1988, Calcutta

Footnotes

(1) Páyrá phasal. A minor crop grown in the same field as a main crop. The seeds for a “pigeon crop” are sown by casting them in the same way that one might cast grain to pigeons. –Eds.