Jacobin Cuckoo

Call it Jacobin Cuckoo or Pied Cuckoo or Pied Crested Cuckoo, it is a summer visitor to Indian subcontinent. It comes here all the way from Africa. The bird is called harbinger of rains because timing of its coming here is just few weeks prior to the arrival of monsoon in India. Monsoons bring a relief from the sweltering heat in the Indian states. Parched earth is rejuvenated with torrents of water from rains. Thus this bird is a welcome sign here. It is aptly called Rain Bird also.

It is generally confused with Papiha which in reality is brain fever bird. One can spit this bird in this area. I have taken many pictures of it.

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Plants used for Medicinal Purposes

The different parts of many plants have been used since ancient times for medicinal purposes. History records many such observations.

The first plant is

English: Caesalpinia pulcherrima at the Desert...

Caesalpinia pulcherrima  plant. It is commonly seen in India. The studies note, contains compounds that have powerful antiviral benefits, especially effective against human herpes viruses and adenoviruses,
which cause the common cold. Caesalpinia pulcherrima prevents these viruses from replicating. Other recent studies demonstrate that extracts from the flower, stem, leaf, fruit, root, and seed of Caesalpinia pulcherrima are also effective against wheezing, bronchitis, malarial infection, tuberculosis, other bacteria, fungi, and some parasites.’ (Counter, 2006)

It is still used widely in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine and is being studied for its antiviral and antibacterial medicinal qualities.

flavo

Second plant is Flos pavonis. Some of its parts were used by the slave women to induce abortion. The Indian slave women are very badly treated by their white enslavers and do not wish to bear children who must live under equally horrible conditions. The black slave women, imported mainly from Guinea and Angola, also try to avoid pregnancy with their white enslavers and actually seldom beget children. They often use the root of this plant to commit suicide in the hope of returning to their native land through reincarnation, so that they may live in freedom with their relatives and loved ones in Africa while their bodies die here in slavery, as they have told me themselves.’ (Merian, quoted in Counter, 2006)

Identification of Plants & Trees in My Locality

Innumerable plants grow on the earth. The very diversity is mind boggling. We did not even know the names of plants growing around us. In fact, most of us never bother to even look around. These become just the backdrop of landscape we dwell in. I don’t think that even God, the creator, has given them names. It is us mortals, who in order to make our life easier document the things. We give nomenclature to everything living in the nature. We have classified them into different kingdoms for our convenience and harmony in the views of different individuals.

I always has the curiosity to know the names of plants around us, the plants which give us hope, clean the atmosphere and provide oxygen for us humans to breathe, give beauty to the surroundings. I admit I don’t know the names of most of them.

In this effort, while searching and searching for days, I chanced upon a website about the flowering trees of India. This site is treasure trove of information about the plants and trees. Thanks to this website, I have been identify some of the plants and trees growing in my colony. Here is a start.

1.Agave, Century plant

Century Plant

This is a native of Mexico. In Indian languages, it has names like Hindi: Kamal cactus कमल कैक्टस , Gwarpatha ग्वारपाठा • Manipuri: Kewa • Telugu: Kalabanda • Kannada: Kantala • Sanskrit: Kantala.
Botanical name: Agave americana Family: Agavaceae (agave family)

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2.Snake Plant, Mother-in-law’s tongue

Snake Plant

Its botanical name is Sansevieria trifasciata belonging to Agavaceae (agave family). It originally belongs to Africa and is best suited for potting. It is sturdy plant.

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3.Cashew

Cashew nut is a nut every Indian is aware of. It is amongst the famo

Cashew

us dry fruits like almonds and other nuts. Following are two pictures of this tree.

The tree is known by many names like Hindi: काजू Kaju • Manipuri: Kaju • Marathi:

Kaju • Tamil: முந்திரி Mundiri, Andima • Malayalam: Kasu mavu • Telugu: Munthamamidi • Kannada: Godambi, Geru • Bengali: Hijli Badam • Konkani: Kazu • Sanskrit: Agnikrita

It grows mostly in Karnataka and Kerala.

Cashew-1The Cashew is a flowering tree, native to northeastern Brazil, where it is called by its Portuguese name Caju (the fruit) or Cajueiro (the tree). It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew “nuts”.

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4.Fishtail Palm

This tree stands in the ground behind hospital in our colony. It looks very majestic. Those beaded threads hanging in a huge bunch like the beard of an saint.

Fishtail Palm

Common names around India are Fishtail Palm, Jaggery Palm, Toddy Palm, Wine Palm • Hindi: Mari • Tamil: கொண்டல் பனை Kontalpanai • Malayalam: Anappana
Botanical name: Caryota urens Family: Arecaceae (Palm family)

When these palms grow to reach a height of about 20 feet, they start producing flowers at the top of the trunk with subsequent flowers produced lower and lower on the trunk. When the lowest flower blooms, the tree dies. Flowers are long plait like bunches hanging down. Toddy palm is an Asian species that grows from India to Burma and on the island country of Sri Lanka.

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5.Barringtonia

Common name: Barringtonia, Freshwater Mangrove, Indian Oak, Indian Putat • Assamese: Hendol, Hinyol, Pani amra • Bengali: Hijal • Hindi: Hijagal, Hijjal, समुन्द्र फल, Samundarphal • Kannada: Mavinkubia, Niruganigily,

Barringtonia

Barringtonia is an evergreen tree of moderate size, called by Sanskrit writers Hijja or Hijjala. The fruit is spoken of as Samudra-phala and Dhātriphala or ”nurse’s fruit,” and is one of the best known domestic remedies. Also called Stream Barringtonia or Itchy Tree (after a catepillar with irritant hairs that sometimes colonises the undersides of the leaves) Barringtonia is a tree 5-8 m tall with rough fissured dark grey bark. Leaves are obovate. Red flowers are produced on pendulous racemes about 20cm long. Four sided fruits are produced periodically throughout the year. Partly deciduous in extended dry periods. This species grows on the banks of freshwater rivers, the edges of freshwater swamps and lagoons and on seasonally flooded lowland plains, commonly on heavy soils. Found in Madagascar and tropical Asia, amongst other places. Propagation is by seed. Tolerant of heavy clay soils with poor drainage, it can grow in a range of soils.

These are the trees which bear very beautiful flowers. These flowers hang on the tree branches like garlands. The flowers has a very short life: only one night. By the morning, the branches which were laden with flowers begin to shed the flowers which plop like rain on the surface. Whole ground beneath the trees become a carpet of red color, which nature seems to have rolled out to welcome the passersby.


6.Traveler’s Palm

This plant is growing in the lawn in front of IEOT. Its botanical name is Ravenala madagascariensis Family: Strelitziaceae (Bird of Paradise family)

Traveler's Palm

Endemic to the island of Madagascar, Traveler’s Palm is one of the most interesting tree-like plants. Traveler’s palm is not a true palm. In part it looks like banana plant and in part a palm tree. Its long leaf stalks and deep green leaves resemble those of the banana and extend out symmetrically from the trunk like a giant Chinese fan. The leaves are up to 10 ft long and 12-20 inches wide. Young traveler’s palms have no visible trunk which, is underground. In adult plants, the trunk emerges above the ground, raising the symmetrical leaf-fan to heights ranging from 30-60 ft. The green palmlike trunk grows up to 1 ft in diameter and displays distinctive trunk leaf scar rings. The small white flowers, in a foot long inflorescence, are held in bracts. In these bracts and leaf folds, rainwater is collected. It is this rainwater collecting property of this tree, which can be consumed by thirsty travelers, what gives it the name traveler’s palm. The fruits are brown while the seeds are blue.


7.Kadam

The tree has names in Indian languages asHindi: कदम्ब Kadamb • Tamil: வெள்ளை கதம்பு Vellaikkatampu • Malayalam: Katampu • Kannada: Kaduavalatige • Telugu: Rudrakskamba
Botanical name: Neolamarckia cadamba Family: Rubiaceae (Coffee family)
Synonyms: Anthocephalus cadamba, Anthocephalus indicus

Kadam

In Hindu mythology, Kadam was the favourite tree of Krishna. Tree up to 45 m tall, without branches for more than 25 m. Diameter up to 100 (-160) cm but normally less; sometimes with buttresses. The crown is umbrella shaped and the branches are characteristically arranged in tiers. Leaves simple, 13-32 cm long. Flowers orange, small, in dense, globose heads. They appear like solid, hairy orange balls. The fruits are small capsules, packed closely together to form a fleshy, yellow or orange coloured infructescence containing approx. 8,000 seeds. The small capsules split into four parts releasing the seed at maturity. There are approximately 20,000 seeds per gram. It is believed to have medicinal value in curing astringent, ulcer, digestive, diarrhoea, expectorant, fever, vomiting. A postal stamp was issued by the Indian Postal Department to commemorate this tree.

Green Pigeons

Assam is home to very different kinds of birds because it provides the rich floral habitat to the diverse fauna. In India, it is the state along with its neighbor states in North East that can still be called pollution free. Everywhere you see the greenery; though things are changing as the people are being infected by the afflictions called modern ways of living because of the mobility of people to and from this area to other parts of the country and increased contact with people outside. Public sector enterprises which recruit employees from all over India and transfers them from one place to another is one such factor which contributes to the knowledge of this kind.

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In summer season, I happen to saw some birds looking like pigeons into the thick boughs of a bird; when i tries to locate where they were sitting; I found that the birds were just like the pigeons but of the green color. I was surprised because in North and Western India, we always saw the pigeons of usually white, grey and mottled colors and generally they sit in the ledges of buildings and pick the food like seeds from the ground; not generally sitting the branches of trees. So these were the green colored pigeons who lived on the trees eating fruits and seeds on them.

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Then I searched the net and there were numerous places especially in Africa and South Asia which are abode of the green pigeons.