Flowering plants of Kerala
Kerala with good rains and tropical climate is ideal for flowering plants to grow and profusely bloom. Orchids, Anthurium and Roses stand in front of the flowering plant category and some less prominent ones but more enchanting plants those are grown all over Kerala.
Aambal or Water-lily
Scientific Name : Nymphaea nouchali
Common Name : Aambal or Water-lily
Family : Nymphaeaceae
The plant is known by many names like water lily, star-lotus, Nymphaea stellataetc. It is an aquatic plant with stem submerged in the ground and long petiole holding flat round leaves above water level. Water-lily flowers are brightly colored from red to blue; many petalled and float over water surface. Hindu myths have a prominent place for lotus flower and Lord Vishnu is supposed to be physically associated to lotus flower and all temples use lotus for rituals.
Arali, Nerium plant, Dog-bane, South-sea rose, Adalpha
Scientific Name : Nerium indicum
Common Name : Arali, Nerium plant, Dog-bane, South-sea rose, Adalpha
Family : Apocyanaceae
The plant is a popular shrub of Kerala garden grown for their extremely beautiful flowers. They grow as herbs, shrubs, trees and even as climbers. Their leaves are simple and alternate and flowers in beautiful inflorescence. Production of profuse sap is a specialty of the members of this family. This sap though poisonous (causes nausea and brain-damage if injested) is of much medicinal value (used for the treatment of scabies).
Arumasam, Krishna kireedam or Pagoda plant
Scientific Name : Clerodentron paniculatum
Common Name : Arumasam, Krishna kireedam or Pagoda plant
Family : Verbenaceae
The plant is a shrub that grows mostly in the wild but capable of excelling any garden-grown plant for its beautiful terminal inflorescence that lasts about six months. Orange-red- bell shaped flowers open row by row in the terminal cluster. Leaves are simple and dark green. The name attributed to it; ‘Krishna kireedam means the crown of lord Krishna; as the inflorescence is so shaped; it is a pity that this plant is not given the adequate importance it deserves.
Ashokam, Galasoka, Anganapriya or Ashoka tree
Scientific Name : Saraca ashoca
Common Name : Ashokam, Galasoka, Anganapriya or Ashoka tree
Family : Caesalpiniacea
The plant is a holy tree for Indians; leaves flowers etc are extensively used in the preparations of Ayurvedic medicins. Ashoka plant bears beautiful scarlet colored flowers on all seasons and is widely grown in front of Indian houses. Ashoka gives dark shades in hot seasons for rest and recoup of the members of the family and hence called ‘Angana-priya’ (darling of the front-yard).
Chempakam or Joy-perfume tree
Scientific Name : Michelia chempaca
Common Name : Chempakam or Joy-perfume tree
Family : Magnoliaceae
The flowers are cup shaped and fleshy; as a primitive feature petals and sepals undistinguished (these parts are called tepals); flowers highly fragrant hence used as room fresheners; perfumes are extracted from its flowers. Indian ladies prefer to wear these flowers in hair and gents carry one in their pocket for the enchanting and long lasting perfume of this special flower.
Chemparuthi or Rose-mallow or sorrel
Scientific Name : Hibiscus rosasinensis
Common Name : Chemparuthi or Rose-mallow or sorrel
Family : Malvaceae
The plant is a widely cultivated garden plant that bears long stalked single auxiliary (that arises from the axis of the leaves) flowers. A hibiscus flower is a typical one with sepals, calyx and petals and a long stalk formed of the fusion of male stamen bearing stalks that protects the long tube from the female part. Leaves are simple alternate dark green with toothed ridges. Plants are either herbs or shrubs and even as trees. At present in this group has gained much popularity due to a variety of colors and shapes being produced by way of biotechnology.
Kashithetti, Savam-nari or Madagascar periwinkle
Scientific Name : Catharanthus roseus (Vinca rosea)
Common Name : Kashithetti, Savam-nari or Madagascar periwinkle
Family : Apocynaceae
It is an herb that bears white or pink flowers on all seasons. Leaves are small, simple and green; fruits paired follicles (2 to 4 cm long). Periwinkle contains alkaloids of medicinal values and cultivated in large scale.
Kadaladi, Mexican creeper, Rosa De Montana, Queen’s wreath or Coral vine
Scientific Name : Antigonon leptopus
Common Name : Kadaladi, Mexican creeper, Rosa De Montana, Queen’s wreath or Coral vine
Family : Polygonaceae
The plant is a tendril-climber that grows wild it is invasive and troublesome. Its profuse flowers that grow in beautiful inflorescences are capable to make it a garden plant blush. Its flexible stem is used to make baskets by the tribal people.
Kanakambaram, Abuli or fire-cracker plant
Scientific Name : Crossandra infundibuliformis
Common Name : Kanakambaram, Abuli or fire-cracker plant
Family : Acanthaceae or Ruellia
The plant is a very popular flowering plant as its brightly colored flowers (blue to golden yellow) are used by women to adorn their hair. This plant is a shrub with simple oval leaves and its ripe fruits bearing pods burst when come in to contact with water; hence a favorite game for rural children and gained it the name fire-cracker plant.
Kanikkonna or golden-shower tree is a shrub
Scientific Name: Cassia fistula
Common Name: Kanikkonna or golden-shower tree is a shrub
The plant is the State of Kerala’s official flower, as the name denotes its flowers are golden-yellow and grown in long pendent inflorescence. The ‘golden shower tree’ produces flowers early and considered as a clarion-call of the arrival of Vishu or Vaishakh a festival of flowers (golden flowers of this plant is used to adorn the image of Lord Krishna on the day of Vishu and shown to children as the first sight of the day for Vishu). A fully blown golden shower tree is a treat to the eye of the beholder and the fallen petals on the ground gives it the name ‘golden-shower’ tree.
Kongini or bendhi or Pot-marigold plant
Scientific Name : Calendula officianalis
Common Name : Kongini or bendhi or Pot-marigold plant
Family : Austeraceae
The plant is a weak stemmed annual herb with compound dark green leaves; it is widely grown for its aromatic and beautiful flowers (inflorescence with outer layer of petals forming the colorful part); aromatic compounds and dyes extracted from flowers. Marigold flowers are worn by women on auspicious occasions like marriage and celebrations.
Kulamariyan, Madhumalti or Rangoon or Chinese creeper
Scientific Name : Quisqualis indica
Common Name : Kulamariyan, Madhumalti or Rangoon or Chinese creeper
Family : Combretaceae
The plant is an invasive, spiny creeper that grows wild and spread quick covering the whole area by producing roots and fresh spouts from creeping stem. Its inflorescences are pendent, flowers five petalled, rich in honey with a tubular stalks; appear white when freshly blown and turns red by passing of the day. Leaves of this plant are used as anti-worm potion. This plant has some medicinal uses and its stem is used for making baskets by tribal people.
Mandaram or Dwarf white bauhinia
Scientific Name : Bauhinia acuminata
Common Name : Mandaram or Dwarf white bauhinia
Family : Fabaceae
It is a garden grown plant that grow only up two meters in height (certain varieties grow as trees bearing blue flowers and often grown on street-sides). Generally dwarf bauhinias bear white shiny flowers on all seasons; flowers are with five petals; leaves camel-foot shaped (hence it is known as camel-foot plant also) and broad, fruits are pods (15 cm in length and 1.5 cm broad; bear 6 to 10 seeds.
Mukkutti or life-plant
Scientific Name : Biophytum sensitivum
Common Name : Mukkutti or life-plant
Family : Oxalidaceae
A short herb with pinnate leaves (eight to seventeen in number) that radiates from the stem, flowers yellow; five petalled long stalked. Biophytum plant has many names like Aleluya in French, nilakurunji in Tamil, Lejjalu in Gujarathi etc. It collapses when stirred (hence the Hindi name Lajjalu meaning shy) it regains shape afterwards the commotion. Mukkutti is of high medicinal value and widely used in Ayurveda.
Mulla or Jasmine
Scientific Name : Jasminum grandiflorum
Common Name : Mulla or Jasmine
Family : Oleaceae
This is one of the most popular flowers for its enchanting fragrance; flowers are white, five petalled, with tubular stalk; leaves generally simple and dark-green. About 200 species exist in this group. Jasminum sambac has many petals (called chendu-mulla meaning bouquet jasmine. Jasmine is a favorite flower of Indian ladies and is widely cultivated for flowers from which oleoresins are extracted.
Nalumani or Four O clock plant
Scientific Name : Mirabilis jalapa
Common Name : Nalumani or Four O clock plant
Family : Nyctagenacea
This is a herb that grows on a bulb like underground stem (rhizome). It is widely grown for the beautiful bell-like flowers that appear on all seasons, the colorful part is the calyx (outer layer of petals) that is fused to form the tube. Seeds are black with wrinkled surface. This herb blooms exactly at 4 o clock gaining the name Nalumani meaning 4 O Clock in Malayalam.
Nandiarvattom or Crepe jasmine or Carnation of India
Scientific Name : Tabeamaemontana diverticata
Common Name : Nandiarvattom or Crepe jasmine or Carnation of India
Family : Apocyanaceae
The plant is a small shrub that produces white fragrant flowers throughout the year, leaves are simple, dark green, fruits are rarely produced; propagation done mainly through stem cuttings. These flowers are considered sacred and used for temple performances.
Pala or Black-board tree or Indian devil tree
Scientific Name : Alstonia scholaris
Common Name : Pala or Black-board tree or Indian devil tree
A soft-stemmed tree with highly fragrant tiny flowers that open during night. Several leaves (seven, nine etc) arise from a single nod and several braches start from the same joint giving the tree a particular shape. Fruits are long pods that hang in clusters. Pala is believed to be the abode of fairies by Indian myths! The fragrance of its flower is sweet when light but causes giddiness when smelled; may be the reason for this innocent tree being called devil tree!
Pitchi, Jathimalli or Common jasmine or Poet’s jasmine
Scientific Name : Jasminum officinale
Common Name : Pitchi, Jathimalli or Common jasmine or Poet’s jasmine
Family : Oleaceae
A weak stemmed climber plant that bears extremely aromatic white flower clusters; this plant’s leaves, roots and flowers have medicinal value. Leaves are pinnately compound with seven leaflets with a larger one at the tip. Laces made of Pitchi flowers are a craze to any Indian lady and these flowers are sold at high prices.
Rajamalli, Dasa-mandaram or Dwarf poinciana
Scientific Name : Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Common Name : Rajamalli, Dasa-mandaram or Dwarf poinciana
The plant is a spiny shrub; it is a garden plant for its beautiful inflorescence with yellow and reddish flowers; leaves are compound with numerous leaflets. Pods contain five to seven seeds. As the name indicates this plant is a small shrub that does not grow more than 4 meters in height.
Sankhu-pushpam, Gokarna, aparojita or Butterfly pea or blue- pea vine
Scientific Name : Clitoria ternatea
Common Name : Sankhu-pushpam, Gokarna, aparojita or Butterfly pea or blue- pea vine
Family : Fabaceae
The plant is a climber plant that bears blue conch shaped inner part above blue or white lower petal. Leaves are green pinnately compound, has much medicinal values. The shape of conch-shell is behind the name of Shankupushpam; shanku means conch-shell in Malayalam (conch-shell is also considered sacred by Hindus).
Thamara, Kamalam, Padmam or Indian lotus
Scientific Name : Nelumbo nucifera
Common Name : Thamara, Kamalam, Padmam or Indian lotus
Family : Nelumbonaceae
It is an aquatic plant that grows in fresh water lakes and ponds with stem buried in the ground. Lotus leaves are round and floats on water connected to the stem with long stalks. Flowers are fragrant and have many red to white colored petals. Lotus is a sacred flower by Hindus and goddess Saraswati is believed to be seated on a lotus flower (Saraswati is the goddess of learning and wisdom).
Thetti, Thechi or West Indian jasmine or Jungle geranium
Scientific Name : Ixora coccinia
Common Name : Thetti, Thechi or West Indian jasmine or Jungle geranium
Family : Rubiaceae
This is an evergreen shrub that grows to less than 8 feet. Flowers are in cymose recemes; generally brick-red to yellow in color. Thetti is also a sacred plant and used in temple rituals. It is a widely grown garden plant; leaves are simple and dark green; has extensive use in Ayurvedic medicines.
Thottavadi or Tickle me plant
Scientific Name : Mimosa pudica
Common Name : Thottavadi or Tickle me plant
Family : Leguminosae
It has many names such as ‘touch me not, shameful plant, sleeping grass, prayer plant etc due to its property to temporarily wilt when touched (thigmotropism). It flowers profusely during the onset of summer and stays flowered until the end of autumn. Flowers are lilac with numerous stamens giving it a ball shaped beautiful shape. It is a spiny creeping plant and grows in waste lands and on road-sides. Mimosa plant has medicinal properties that can cure piles, urinary stone etc.
Thulasi or Holy basil plant is an herb with high medicinal value
Scientific Name : Ocimum tunnuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum
Common Name : Thulasi or Holy basil plant is an herb with high medicinal value
It is an herb (about three feet in height) with small aromatic simple leaves; flowers terminal racemes. It is grown in front of the houses on special platforms and watered and housewives circumambulate around this plant every morning with folded hands as this plant is supposed to be a holy one.
Vakha, Gulmohur, Krishna-chura or Royal Poinciana
Scientific Name : Delonix regia
Common Name : Vakha, Gulmohur, Krishna-chura or Royal Poinciana
Family : Fabaceae
The plant is a weak-stemmed tree with compound leaves with numerous leaflets Its flowers are extremely beautiful with one white and other four red petals. Fruits are large sword-like pods with many seeds. A Gulmohur plant at full-bloom is an unforgettable sight.
Velipparuthi or Spanish-flag is a wild invasive spiny shrub
Scientific Name : Lantana camara
Common Name : Velipparuthi or Spanish-flag is a wild invasive spiny shrub
Family : Verbenaceae
Its flowers are arranged in terminal cymes (that is born at the tip of the branch and in dumbbell shaped inflorescence). Flowers are tiny but very attractive; younger sporting lighter color.