Lantana Shrubs

It is the start of month of September. Still it is very hot during the day but mornings have begun to become cooler. Sometimes very strong breeze welcomes you when you are outdoors.

While going out these days in the morning, I noticed multitudes of butterflies. These although are very agile and usually rarely sit still at one place are seen sitting peacefully on the leaves of shrubs.

There are many species of shrubs growing wildly in our area. Names of many of these are not  known to me as will be to others because no one is interested in knowing the names of weeds and shrubs which are of no tangible use to us although nothing exists in nature that is without purpose.

There is one such shrub which grows abundantly here and these days giving different color of flowers. While passing by these shrubs you will be welcomed by strong aromatic smell exuded by these flowers.

Lantana’s aromatic flowers clusters  called umbels are a mix of red, orange, yellow, or blue and white florets . Other colors exist as new varieties are being selected. The flowers typically change color as they mature, resulting in inflorescences that are two- or three-colored.

About 150 species exist worldwide. The leaves contain poisonous chemicals but its ripe berries are eaten by many birds. Thus the plant uses very clever strategy to survive and propagate. Animals don’t eat its leaves and birds spread its seeds far and near helping the plant to proliferate. Thus at many places it becomes invasive irritant.
Its one use is that it is a honey plant.

I took some pictures of flowers of different varieties prevalent here.

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Animals take drugs when in grief

Man’s penchant for getting drunk is much older than keeping himself clean. I mean the use of alcohol and other substances obtained from plants which give high is much older than the invention of soap for cleaning the body. But it is not only the humans who feel the need to get a high but many animals also are similar. Johann Hari, who is the author of book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” has spent 25 years observing the behaviour of animals when in they are alarmed or in grief. He began his research after going through the findings on this subject from Ronald Siegel. For example, Siegel had planted “Silver Morning Glory” a plant containing powerful hallucinating chemicals in the pen of Hawaiian mongoose. The animals tasted it leaves felt disoriented and avoided the plant altogether. But there happened a tropical storm which destroyed the den, filled it with mud and female dead. The male returned to the plant and ate its leaves to get blasted out of mind. After that Hari began his research and found more evidence. For example, in Vietnam, he found that prior to bombings in the Vietnam war with America, the buffaloes never chewed on opium plants. But when the bombings began, the water buffaloes ate the opium plants. They became dull and dizzy to escape their thoughts like mongoose. Similarly, bees bees fell to ground in a temporary stupor after sampling the numbing nectar of certain orchids. Birds gorge themselves on inebriating berries, then fly with reckless abandon. His more observations are given below : “Cats eagerly sniff aromatic “pleasure” plants, then play with imaginary objects. Cows that browse special range weeds will twitch, shake, and stumble back to the plants for more. Elephants purposely get drunk off fermented fruits. Snacks of “magic mushrooms” cause monkeys to sit with their heads in their hands in a posture reminiscent of Rodin’s Thinker. The pursuit of intoxication by animals seems as purposeless as it is passionate”