Wednesday, March 16, 2011

நொச்சி (ஐந்திலை) The Vitex negundo

The நொச்சி (ஐந்திலை) Vitex negundo seems to have a lesser appearance in Singapore than its 'close cousin' the Vitex trifolia, which I have mentioned earlier in this blog.

The Vitex negundo seen at Serangoon Avenue 1, Singapore.

The obvious difference between two species being the V. trifolia has leaflets 3-foliate and glossy - while the V. negundo has 3-5 (rarely 3) and dull.

A five-lobed leaf of the Vitex negundo.

The flowers of the Nochi in terminal clusters.

Nochi, the Tamil name, commonly refers to this plant, the five-lobed Vitex negundo. It is the 'prefered nochi' in traditional medicine probably due to the stronger scent its leaves have, which they readily release even when brushed against.

But the Vitex trifolia is a more common house-plant in Singapore as it has a neater appearance, I think.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Tamarindus indica - புளி

The tamarind tree - புளியமரம் (Asam Jawa - in Malay) is native to Tropical Asia and Africa, as most botanist would like to say.

But the specific name 'indica' means 'of Indian origin'. And the genus name 'Tamarindus' is of Arabic root; Tamar = date, (h)ind = Indian, meaning Indian date, as the dried pulp resembles the fruits of date palm. Probably it IS native of India, relying on its Arabic name, as the Arabs came to India long before the British botanists did!

But, Africa, Asia or India, the Tamarind Tree just wouldn't care where it grows, so long as the climate is right, tropical, thriving on various soil conditions, clayish, loamy or slightly sandy, telling us just one thing - "If you don’t care where you are, you ain’t lost".

And sure enough, it is planted all over Singapore, for its looks - pretty, cute, handsome or majestic, you may call.

Seen here, is a row of them along Woodlands Avenue 7.

Elsewhere it is grown for its edible fruits, used for food flavouring, and timber. A slow growing tree that can reach up to 30 metres in height.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Pithecellobium dulce - கொடுக்காய்ப் புளி

The Pithecellobium dulce - கொடுக்காய்ப் புளி - 'Madras Thorn' seen at Kampong Kapor Road, Singapore. This tree was widely planted in Singapore during the sixties for its evergreen bushy crown, then gave up its space to other trees as its seedlings tend to get weedy.

The dry, thorny twigs, that fall off, never failed to pierce the feet of some causal walkers if not cleared soon. The tree was seen to attract some moths in large numbers, whose caterpillars, big and 'scary', but harmless tend to wriggle their way into homes being a nuisance.

If you saw a few worms on your bed in the morning, some squashed, then you can be sure that those large trees nearby were the Madras Thorn. But they are no longer seen as the number of trees in Singapore is very much reduced.
Trees over 12 metres, trunks with curious swellings, like 'scuptures' of undefinable shapes.

Flowers, greenish-white with corolla hairy, that eventually become spiral pods, with a sweet pulp - hence Pithecellobium (ape's earings) dulce (sweet).

The Tamil name 'kodukkaai' means 'curved fruit'. They are edible - harvested and sold along streets in some countries.

Leaves compound, dark green. One variety with white-green variegated leaves is getting popular as an ornamental plant in Singapore.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Vernonia cinerea - நெய்ச்சிட்டி

The Vernonia cinerea - நெய்ச்சிட்டி is a widespread weed, in waste places and gardens. These pictures taken at Bedok Road, Singapore.

Grows not more than 1 metre tall, usually 0.5 meters. Purple flowering heads, called "cupid's shaving brush", sometimes pinkish, small 6 -7 mm.

Leave your lawn unmowed for a month and the Vernonia cinerea will be the first to sprout to prominence .

Used in traditional medicine in most cultures. In Tamil medicine, its juice is used mainly as a vehicle for other compositions, besides being a lone prescription.

And Siddhar Theraiyar says:
தூய‌ழ‌கி ற‌ப்புரியுஞ் சூத‌க‌ந்த‌ மாதிக‌ளால்
வாய‌ழுகி நாறுப்புண்ணை மாற்றிவிடுந் - தீய‌ழ‌லை
நீக்கிவிடு நிம்ப‌நெய்யை நெய்யாக் கிடும்வ‌ம‌ன்ம்
போக்கிவிடு நெய்ச்சிட்டிப் பூண்டு.
‍‍.... தேரைய‌ர் வெண்பா

The ripe seeds, with 'feathers' waiting for a wind to blow them to your grass patch.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Caesalpinia pulcherrima - நாழல்

The Caesalpinia pulcherrima - நாழல் seen at Lorong 8 Toa Payoh, Singapore.

A popular shrub, up to about 3 metres tall, stems thorny, flowers strikingly yellow, red or orange. Known as the 'peacock flower'.
Botanical syn: Poinciana pulcherrima

Pods, flat, up to 10cm long.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Vinca rosea - நித்திய கல்யாணி

The Vinca rosea - நித்திய கல்யாணி seen at Hougang Avenue 4, Singapore.

This is a perennial herb, everblooming with flowers commonly rose-purple or white. Cultivated as an ornamental plant, often running wild. Seen to grow even in cracks of concrete paves. Some cultivars with red, pink and multi-coloured petals.

Fruits follicular, about 25mm long, with many small seeds.

Common names: Periwinkle, pin-wheel flower...
Botanical synonyms: Catharanthus roseus, Lochnera rosea.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Aloe vera - கற்றாழை

The Aloe vera - கற்றாழை seen in blooms at Lorong 16 Geylang, Singapore. There are many varieties of this species seen in Singapore, big and small, sometimes called Aloe barbedensis.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Dioscorea bulbifera - காய்வள்ளிக் கொடி

The Dioscorea bulbifera - காய்வள்ளிக் கொடி seen at Avenue 10 Ang Mo Kio, Singapore.

A vigourous twiner, stems barely woody. This is a monocotyledon, the first that I have brought up in my blog, with no regrets as I am sure this is truly an eye-catcher - for its mysterious looking aerial tubers, (bulbils) - commonly called the air-potato.

This is not a friut! It is a tuber that grows at leaf axils up to a size of a regular pumelo. I have not seen its fruits. Perhaps it doesn't fruit!

The bulbils are planted and it grows easily; in some countries it is the "poor man's" food. Elsewhere, it is considered and invasive plant - that it encroaches the space of other plants.

The flowers are tiny, white sometimes pale green. Seen here are the female spikes - up to 20 cm long, the male spikes being shorter about 4 cm.

More a food than a medicine. But then, there is no disease worse than hunger!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Plumeria rubra - பெருங்கள்ளி

The Common Frangipani, Plumeria rubra, பெருங்கள்ளி or ஈழத்தலரி, seen at an open field near Lavender MRT Station, Singapore.

What you see is a fruit bearing stalk!
Plants in this family, Apocynaceae, produce such follicles occasionally.
This plant is extensively planted all over Singapore, even on traffic islands for its profuse, fragrant and brilliant flowers, colours - white, yellow and red with the combinations and shades of the three, including orange and pink.
The Great Frangipani, P. acuminata and P. alba, also cultivated here, but less often, have the same names in Tamil.

Some plants in this family, like the Nerium Oleander - அலரி are poisonous, with many fatalities reported, but the Plumeria is nowhere near the Oleander on the poison scale. Still I wouldn't chew on it.

In native Tamil medicine its milky sap and various parts are used to treat skin ailments - FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY! So don't worry if you get the sap on your hands.

"ஈழ‌த்த‌ல‌ரிப் பாவேறு புரைப்புண் தொடையின் வாழைப் புற்றும்போக்கும் மால்" ‍‍‍‍‍‍ --- அக‌த்திய‌ர் குண‌வாக‌ட‌ம்

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Mimusops elengi - மகிழ மரம்

The Mimusops elengi - மகிழ மரம் is a common roadside tree, small, neat and known for its fragrant flowers. A night-bloomer, you can't miss its smell when you walk past it when in blooms.

Very popular on Town-Council lands, this tree is seen at Lorong 3, Toa Payoh, Singapore.