Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Multicoloured flower

The State Flower of Tamil Nadu is indeed a rather unique specimen. The young flower of the Glory Lily (Gloriosa superba) starts off with its mostly-flat green petals drooping downwards. As the flower grows, not only do the petals lengthen out, but they also begin to get all crinkly and move from their droopishness to curve backwards. In the process, they also change colour from green to red, passing through a stage of partial, if not complete yellow. As the petals curve back, the stamens of the flower follow them part-way, and in the mature flower, appear like outriggers stabilising the flower.

The flower has medicinal properties. Which also means that it is poisonous, if the dosage is exceeded or otherwise improperly administered. Seeing some of us carrying this flower with us, the locals ran up to ask us to drop the flower and to make sure we washed our hands well: it is indeed that poisonous, they insisted. Though it is the root that is the most poisonous (most medicinal), the leaves and the flower can also cause acute discomfort all along the digestive system, so why take a chance?

Because of its medicinal value, the plant is apparently becoming scarce. I don't think it is very easy to spot one in Chennai. In fact, I saw this one in the Thattekad forest in Kerala!

1 comment:

Abhishek said...

Nice flower and nice photography too.