Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ixora coccinea (Rubiaceae) - flowers that gods and men love

Like some gods and goddesses, the flower shown in the photo has several names - Ixora coccinea (Rubiaceae), jungle flame, burning love, jungle geranium, flame of the woods, flame of the forest, scarlet jungle flame, faja lobi, rugmini, vedchi , rangan, chethi. Select any you like. I would opt for chethi because it always reminds me, like most Malayalees, of the perennial favorite song ‘Chethi, mandaram, tulasi…” But I’ll stick to the botanical name, Ixora for this post.

In some countries Ixora coccinea (Rubiaceae) is associated with valor. It is said that ancient Tamil literature mentions about soldiers wearing the flowers and leaves of this plant around their necks while going into battle. Ixora flowers are also a symbol of increased sexuality and passion. There is a religious angle as well to this plant. It is often a part of the prasadam (remnants of the offering to God) the temple priests give the devotees after a requested pooja (prayer ritual) to indicate that the deity is satisfied.

The 400 odd species of Ixora coccinea (Rubiaceae) grow mainly in India, Sri Lanka, South East Asia and Africa. It belongs to the coffee family. The leaves and flowers differ in size from one variety to another. The plant blooms throughout the year and most of the types are easy to grow. Propagation of Ixora is done mostly through cuttings. They are good as garden plants, for hedges and the small type as potted indoor plants. Ixora is said to be good for bonsai too.

Ixora flowers come in several colors and shades. Red ones are commonly found. Then there are different shades of pink, flame orange and so on. The yellow flowers are equally beautiful. White ones are supposed to be a good kani (first sight in the morning). But unlike the other varieties of Ixora the white one appear to be more difficult to grow. At home we have different shades, but not white.

Ancient systems of medicine like Siddha claim that almost all parts of Ixora have curative and/or prophylactic properties. Some of the modern research seems to confirm this. But I don’t know whether any approved medicines based on Ixora are available in the market.

If you have a garden, add this plant. Or try the indoor version, or bonsai.


Also see:

Photos: Electric blue flowers

Photographs: Ixora Coccinea flowers

Photos: AK Kepler. Copyright free.
Click on photos for enlarged view.


Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

I remember one of the ladies down the road grows these flowers. I don;t what they were called till today. I remember once that we had plucked the entire bunch of flowers, and plucked out the individial flowers, and sucked the nectar out of them. That's easy with the Ixora. It tastes really sweet.

Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

PS: I went through your blog 'EARTH SAVE' and found it immensely interesting and absorbing. I too am really concerned about global warming, climatic changes, and enviornment. I was, infact, planning a seperate blog for such issues itself. I loved that blog of yours.

Abraham Tharakan said...

I believe that they make a health drink from Ixora.

Lakshmi, I'm glad that you liked EARTH SAVE and that you are concerned about global warming. It is a matter of regret that I haven't been giving EARTH SAVE the attention it deserves.

I'll try to spend more time on it.

vrajesh said...

nice article.i was searching for a link for my latest post.thank you.

zafran said...

Nice info,nice blog & great job. Pakistan flowers