My grandma used to take us to the near by temple pond when we were too young.smearing herb extracted coconut oil on pate and face, some times all over the body. we would cross the patch of rice fields where herons had fixed themselves in the fields and we would search for kannilunni or the condensed or semi frozen rain water around new grass roots.When we pass along the thickets grandma used to collect twigs of hibiscus plant for herbal shampoo and we see the bright coloured flowers with wrinkled petals on the thickets where the sunlight falls directly upon it..When we try to pluck them
grandma warned us awfully“They are mad flowers’”.We felt a bit desperate because there was something mysterious or dreamy about the flower. Gloriossa flowers lit the hedges with flames,the flames that is red hot at the end.The flowery flickering flames used to haunt us with their electrified petals when we passed along hedges .. Grandma classified the flowers into three categories , flowers fit to be used for worship such as Ixora,basil,rose,wild flowers like ,climbing flax, or mothirakkanni [ hugonia mystax ], velliyila flag bush or mussaenda frondosa ,ana mad flowers” Bhranthan poovu “like gloriosa,wild turmeric flower [ Curcuma aromatica] and Ummath [thorn apple , datura metel]. The mad flowers always remained at the back drop of child hood memories shrouded in mystery.
We may come across this creeper on the hedges or on thickets grasping with tendrils formed at the tip of the leaf.The flowers are really enchanting and strange.. we feel that butterflies flutter frantically on the thicket ..The wrinkled petals evokes a dyanamic feeling. Poet Kumaranasan might have imagined this flower when he wrote ‘”eevalliyil ninnu chemme p0ookkal –pokunnitha parannamme.
When the bud opens the pale green bud starts to grow downwards.As the petals get lengthened, they start to wrinkle and gradually arch backward.The bud itself is a perfect design of harmony.the stamens are extremely prominent and spread outward in graceful curves.
They appear as the antennae of the butterfly. The colour of the petals vary from green to light green,then to yellow. Yellow to orange at last to crimson…colours vary as the flower gets older.
Later the plant appeared in the pre degree botany test. I sketched the picture of gloriosa leaf on the record book placing an x ray sheet under the page.The leaf tip of gloriosa elongate into a slender tendril that coils around the near by support to get grip. The teacher presented it as an alein species of some other planet!
We call this strange lilly in different ways,.climbing lilly,creepy lilly,glory lilly,and tigers claw .The plant has been a a source of medicine right from the ancient time.
The plant, scientifically known as gloriosa superba is significient in the field of traditional medicine.The tuber of the plant is used to heal the bruises ,chronic ulcers,sprains,colic,cancer,and impotence.Some beleive that it bears some magical properties.The plant contains mainly two alchaloids Clochisine and gloriosine. Clochisine is responsible for for the toxicity.