Finding Ukshi

As you engage into new things you become privy to newer experiences, exposed as you’re to a world unknown to you till very recently. That world holds new promises, newer perspectives. Your engagement with this ‘new’ world opens you to virginal excitements. Of having come to know things though commonplace  but now novel and holding some promise.

ukshiI realized this fact ever since I became a bee-keeper. Looking for the source of pollen and nectar I started studying the neighbourhood flora, and during one such field trip I came across Ukshi. That’s what Mangal identified the plant as such.

Ukshi (calotropis floribunda) is a large climbing shrub found extensively in the low-lying tropical evergreen forests of the Western Ghats. Its young branchlets are dense with yellow short soft hair. The leaves are arranged opposite, egg-shaped to narrowly elliptical, entire and dense with yellow short soft hair, particularly below.

Ukshi flowers are bisexual and yellowish-green in colour. They bloom between February and March. As the flowers store nectar they are favourite among bees. Come daylight swarms of bees descend on Ukshi flowers.

I am told that Ukshi is revered as a life-saver by the forest dwellers who regularly depend on it during summer when streams dry up. Sections of the vine store water, which people often use to quench their thirst.

 

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