CANNON BALLS

All details in inverted commas and italics are subsequent additions.

Enchanted Forests

I had only heard of this remarkable tree and was overwhelmed when I saw these amazing Cannon Balls hanging from a tree in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.

Spotted at the entrance of the Sathya Sai Hospital in Whitefield, Bangalore.

“As promised am Updating with missing  details on the Fascinating CANNON BALL Tree which hails from the Amazonian rain forests of South America.”

balls-on-tree Innumerable Balls

I simply cannot digest this Enchantment alone and thus sharing the picture without the usual details and some interesting snippets. For that kindly wait for a week when I am back on my desk at Home.

The Cannon Ball tree ( English), Couroupita gueanensis ( Scientific name) bears large brown Cannon Ball like fruits which create a  thunderous sound like a cannon being fired when they crash to the ground.

These Large trees ironically  line the Footpath along the frontage of a Hospital in…

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GOLDEN EARS

 

Wheat ( English), Gehu ( Hindi), Triticum aestivum ( Scientific name) refers to to Cultivated grass known to man for over 10,000 years.

The Spikes of this grass give us our Daily bread , Pasta or Rotis across the world.

Modern Iran , or Persia as it was known as in former times, is supposedly the Origin of Bread Wheat.

The pictures that follow were taken across Northern India and stretch over 4 months.

Field of Wheat
Green Fields of Wheat Near Delhi

India is the second largest producer of Wheat in the World and by and large self sufficient in this extremely Important Winter Crop.

The Green Fields gradually change colour with rising temperatures and the advent of Spring.

field mid way
Green turning to Gold

Local languages are extremely Illustrative, Wheat is called Kanak in the region of Punjab in India and has its roots in Sanskrit. It is a Pun on the word Gold.

Evolution of Golden Ears of Wheat is evident from the picture that follows.

green turning gold
The  Ears of Wheat  are more Gold now

By the end of March and the advent of April , Yellow Fields of Mustard yield giving way to Golden Wheat Fields. A sight to behold and Savour.

The following picture was taken from a Train in Rajasthan.

golden field
Golden Fields of Wheat seen from a Train

Ladybirds ( friends can you spot the dots) cling to the Spikes formed by the Kernels as the Wheat Ears turn to Gold and thus called Kanak.

wheat and ladybirds
Golden Wheat attracts Ladybirds too

This  scene of Harvesting  will be replicated across North India welcoming the Onset of Summer and celebrated during a lovely festival called Baisakhi on the 13th of April.

This picture was taken in Late March through the Window of a Train.

harvested
Harvesting begins across Northern India

Do have a closer look at your Bread, Pasta or Chapati ( Roti)  and be Enchanted.

POWER PACK

14th of January  is celebrated as Makar Sakranti and is the day the Sun meets the Constellation of Capricorn ( Makar in Hindi) .

Makar Sakranti is the ONLY Hindu festival which is based on the Solar Calender and is celebrated across the country ,though assigned different names like  Pongal in Tamil Nadu ( South India) and Uttarayan in Gujarat. ( Western India)

The day marks the beginning of an auspicious period and is celebrated with the distribution of sweets made  of Jaggery ( Gud in hindi)  and Sesame ( Til in Hindi) .

This blog is about Sesame ( English), Til ( Hindi), Sesamum Indicum ( Scientific Name) and I can think of no better day than Makar Sakranti to introduce this ancient tiny seed to you.

The picture below shows the  arid farmlands of this traditionally attired farmer of Rajasthan who has recently harvested his crop of Sesame oilseeds.

His White Turban and manner of wearing it indicate he belongs to the Nature Worshiping community of Bishnois.(do read my blog on THE BLACK BUCKS)

the bishnoi farmer

The proud Bishnoi farmer and the Sesame fields

The Sesame plant is the oldest oilseed known to man and the species Sesamum Indicum is native to India.

The Sesame plant is extremely hardy and can survive in the arid and parched desert like climate of Rajasthan. ( see the sandy soil in the picture above)

The photograph below is  of a bushel of dried Sesame plants ,each carrying numerous tiny  seeds  carefully packed by Nature in fruits which resemble capsules.

bushel of sesame
Bushel of sesame

A closer look shows the Enchanting Power Packs of Sesame Oil seeds.The Sesame fruits ( in the picture)  consists of 4 Packs which burst open to release the seeds on maturity.

The seeds of the Sesame plant have the highest content of nutritious oil in any seed known to man.

Is it then a Wonder that  they are today included in almost every cuisine known to Man.

The little off white ( or black) seeds on Buns and the sides of Sushi are none other than Sesame Seeds.

sesame seeds dried
Unique Fruits 

The 4 power pack capsules of the Sesame Plant are ready to burst from the tip and are thus harvested before they can disperse their valuable oil seeds.

The tiny Sesame seeds are a SUPERFOOD and pack an array of Proteins,Vitamins Minerals , Oils and dietary fiber.

enclosed package
Unique packaging

The Ancient Indians knew the nutritional value of the Power Packed Sesame Seeds and thus intertwined them with religious festivals like Makar Sakranti to ensure  the population at large remain healthy.

Next time you eat a Hamburger , do look at the tiny white seeds that adorn the Crown of the Buns.

So friends, Wishing you  a Happy Makarsakranti  and remain healthy with Til ( Sesame)  Gud ( Jaggery) . Til for health and Gud for sweet words and deeds.

SUPERFOOD

These lovely golf ball sized fruits are called AMLA ( Hindi) or Indian Gooseberry ( English) .

These lemon-green coloured balls are the richest natural source of Vitamin C. They contain 4 times the Vitamin C as is found in  Citrus fruits like an Orange.

the amla tree.JPG
The tree bearing the fruit AMLA

Phyllanthus emblica or Emblica Officinalis are the scientific names of the tree of the Amla or Amlaki ( Sanskrit).

Used by the  traditional Indian school of medicine, Ayurveda for thousands of years, the Amla has numerous curative properties.

One of the tools of classification of Ayurveda, is Taste. All fruits/herbs are clubbed under 6 different tastes.

The Amla  amazingly falls under 5 of the 6 tastes  (Sour, Astringent, Sweet, Bitter and Pungent). The only taste left is Salty.

I will classify Amla under the heading SUPERFOOD.

branches laden with fruit

branches laden with fruits

The tree is extremely hardy and requires little water and care making it an ideal fruit bearing tree for the near desert like climate of Pushkar in Rajasthan.

The Amla is a miraculous fruit and has numerous curative properties as it revives and conserves the forces of Life.

The website

(  http://ayurveda-foryou.com/ayurveda_herb/amalaki.html) enlists all the  medicinal properties extensively.

bunches of fruit
abundance of Amla

 

You will find the Amla being sold on the streets in Pushkar , do have one daily for breakfast with a pinch of Rock salt or Kala Namak. Far better than popping pills.

amla in the market
Fascinating colours of the Amla  Street Vendors

Do try to find the Amla trees laden with this miraculous herb or better still stay at Resorts like the Pushkar Risala located in the the midst of an Amla Orchard.

BLACK EYED SUSAN

This single extraordinary flower stands out from a sea of green at the amazing HOTEL FATEGARH in Udaipur.( Rajasthan, India).
At first glance it is difficult to identify what belongs to which plant. It is a maze of leaves, branches, buds and flowers.

eye catcher
                                                                      Eye Catcher

It is indeed a lot of fun ( and sometimes frustrating ) to identify a flower or a plant. Try it.

My recent education makes me hone it down to the Malvaceae family ( A  diverse family including the flower Hibiscus,  the cash crop Cotton,  vegetable Okra  and the fruit Durian) .

Recent education was in a vegetable market in New Delhi, where I saw the  conical tell tale buds of Roselle ( Hibiscus Sabdariffa )  for the first time. ( a rushed picture from my mobile)

Thus the Genus Hibiscus  is clearly  established from the buds , now onto the tougher part of identifying the species.

Roselle
                                                           Roselle bunched with Raw Mangoes

I have a recent picture of  the Lady Finger ( Okra) plant which shows the similarity of the two family members in the typical cone-shaped buds, the whorl below the buds and the leaves.

This picture was taken at THE CORN VILLAGE near Mussoorie in the Himalayas.

( please check out the blog http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com)

Can you imagine the vegetable Okra ( Abelmoschus esculentus and the flower above belong to the same family?

Okra
                                                            Okra or Lady Finger

When I checked out from the  initial look and colour of  the flower ( yellow with black centre)  I came up with no less than seven options from the Genus Hibiscus.

Hibiscus calyphyllus, Hibiscus caesius ( five-fingered mallow) ,Hibiscus hispidissimus,

Hibiscus lampas ( Jangli Bhindi) ,Hibiscus manihot ( Jangli Bhindi).Hibiscus vitifolius, Hibiscus abelmoschu.

Do remember all I have are photographs taken from a digital camera close to two decades ago.

malvacae family
                                                        Malvacae or Hibiscus  family

The habitat where one locates flora ( or fauna)  is an extremely useful tool in identifying the species.

After a pain staking comparison of the buds ( they have no hair in the picture), the typical whorl below the buds and the leaves resembling the head of a coconut tree ,I think the flower is christened Hibiscus Caesius Garcke.

( Please  verify at  http://efloraindia.nic.in ) 

As i leave you to ponder and decipher the correct identify of Susan, I move onto identify the white flowers seen along with these eye catchers.

BLESSED ON TOP

Am leaving you only with images and Silence  through an Enchanting Forest In Mussoorie.

entry
entry
starting point
starting point
thick forest
thick enchanting  forest
steep climb
steep climb
camera trap
camera trap
green mountains
green mountains of deodars, oaks and rhododendrons
pine cones
pine cones and the doon valley
bear hill
bear hill
the flags at the peak of flaghill
Blessings  at the peak of flaghill

If you scream for inputs, will be happy to add details tomorrow.

THE DANDELION PUFFBALL

These gorgeous flowers are actually quite small and but for their attractive golden colour would have missed my eye.

Dandelion ( English), Dudhi ( Hindi) , Taraxacum officinale ( scientific)

Known down the centuries by both Indian and Western Herbal Medical practitioners, all parts of the plant are used for curing various ailments.

The Dandelion is particularly useful to cure ailments of the Liver and Kidneys.

The flower and leaves are also used to make wine and salads respectively. The leaves are a rich source for various vitamins and minerals .

Dandelion
             Dandelion growing as a weed in the gardens of JW Marriot,  Mussoorie

It was by chance that I photographed the Puffball in quite another location in the Himalayas. ( in the garden of the Brentwood sanctuary near Prateeks lovely home)

It was only upon writing this article that I realized the Puffball is none other than the ripe fruit of the gorgeous golden yellow dandelion flower.

The seeds are dispersed by the wind and have inspired famous poets like William Wordsworth.

It is however an invasive weed and infests the crops of farmers around the world.

Puffball
                                                             Puffball

Do keep reading for more interesting anecdotes about  Himalayan wildflowers.