Home Photography Photofeature Flowers In The Rain

Flowers In The Rain

Flowers In The Rain

Passiflora sp.

M.S. Mayilvahanan
Photo: M.S. Mayilvahanan.

A native of South America, this species is now found in the wild in India. The plant is a small perennial climbing vine seen usually on the forest edges. The solitary flowers are greenish-white and foul-smelling. The corona has violet, purple or white filaments. Aside from its beauty, Passiflora is also a food plant for the tawny coster butterfly.

Water is life. With the torrential rains, a host of monsoon flora make an appearance: the balsams, begonias, crinums, cassias and numerous orchids, aroids, zingibers... For those who love walking, the countryside is transformed into a multi-hued dream world. Several shrubs and trees laden with seeds, in fact, begin to ‘show off’ even before the onset of the monsoon. And, when the monsoon recedes, a different set of flowers tarry a while, as though working in shifts to scent and colour the earth.

Drosera peltata

M.S. Mayilvahanan
Photo: M.S. Mayilvahanan.

This plant belongs to the Droseraceae family of carnivorous or ‘meat-eating’ plants. The leaves have long, red, glistening gland-tipped hairs. Roving insects get trapped on the sticky gum and the leaf-blade then folds around them and digestion commences. The upper portions of the leaf-blades are also covered with long, sticky glandular hairs. The flowers normally have five petals (varies between four to eight), are white, small and in terminal branched clusters.

Impatiens balsamina

Anish Andheria Photo: Dr. Anish Andheria.

This Southeast Asian native can be seen up to heights of 1,800 m. The plant grows 15 to 50 cm. with solitary pink or whitish flowers with slender curved spurs. The flowers themselves are about two to four centimetres long and are seen between July and October in grasslands, well-wooded moist regions, hilly slopes and along roads. Caterpillars of some moth species feed on this plant. The flower extract has antibacterial and antifungal properties and it is also used as a natural dye.

It’s that time of the year again. When it rains… flowers bloom across the Indian subcontinent. We tend to take them for granted, but flowering plants, or angiosperms, are actually among the world’s most successful plants. They date back to the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era and occupy almost every niche in the natural world. In fact, they are the largest dominant group in the plant kingdom. India alone has 15,000 documented species out of a world total of 250,000. Mountains are particularly ‘good’ for wild flower watching. Many Himalayan slopes are literally smothered with flowers between July and September. The zone above the tree-line, snowed under for six months, is particularly rich in flowering herbs and shrubs. Perhaps, the most famous of all such habitats is the incredible Valley of Flowers, which attracts people to its almost surreal beauty in July and August each year. And to those in the know, Sangargulu in Upper Dachigam, Kashmir, is the ‘flowering heaven’ on earth. The other great wild flower destination is the Western Ghats. The southwest monsoon bestows its bounty on these ranges and the entire stretch from Maharashtra to Kerala is a virtual showcase for biodiversity. The orchids of the northeast that tend to bloom at the hottest time of the year are in fact ‘early warnings’ that the monsoon is just a few weeks away.

Habenaria rariflora

M.S. Mayilvahanan
Photo: M.S. Mayilvahanan.

The Orchidaceae family comprises terrestrial, epiphytic or saprophytic herbs. This is one of the two largest families of flowering plants with about 1,000 genera and 15-20,000 species. Also known as chire habe-amri in Marathi, these two to three centimetre long flowers are three-lobed. The plant is seen on rock faces and hill slopes. They emerge soon after the monsoons start, peaking in August.

Drosera indica

Mayilvahanan
Photo: M.S. Mayilvahanan.

This insectivorous herb stands 5 to 15 cm. high with rosy to deep pink flowers. The stem is weak and glandular. The three to six centimetre linear leaves are fringed with numerous gland-tipped tentacles that clasp the insect. Sparkling dots of sticky liquid form the tips. The lateritic plateaus of Goa, especially in the latter half of the monsoons, are the best places to observe this plant.

Curcuma pseudomontana

Anish Andheria
Photo: Dr. Anish Andheria.

Ran-halad or hill turmeric belongs to the Zingiberaceae or ginger family, with trademark fleshy underground rhizomes. It is usually found on forested slopes and grows on a solitary spike arising from leaf sheaths. The flowers are borne either on stem tips or on separate flowering shoots next to the plant between July and October. The flowers are bright yellow among rosy-purple bracts. The petals are funnel shaped; the lobes are ovate and pale rose-coloured. This is the food plant of the Grass Demon Skipper butterfly.

Arisaema leschenaultii

M.S. Mayilvahanan
Photo: M.S. Mayilvahanan.

Endemic to the Western Ghats, this plant has a solitary leaf and a 24 to 135 cm. long petiole. The flower is conspicuous and attractive with its white-and-green or purple-striped spathe, a basal cylindrical or slightly funnel-shaped portion and an upper expanded limb portion. The spathe encircles a fleshy axis or spadixm, which bears numerous tiny flowers on its surface.

Habenaria longicorniculata

M.S. Mayilvahanan
Photo: M.S. Mayilvahanan.

Habenaria longicorniculata or sheput habe-amri in Marathi, also a member of the Orchidaceae family, grows from about 30 to 100 cm. The leaves are clustered at the base and one to four greenish-white, fragrant flowers emerge on a green peduncle with sheathing bracts. The peak flowering season is September. The white lip is three-lobed with a claw and the spur is pale green. The species is occasionally seen on grasslands at higher elevations.

Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXII. No. 4. August 2002.

 
 
 

Subscribe to our Magazines

Subscribe Now!
 
Please Login to comment