Category: Plants of India Page 1 of 4

Plants of India: Introduction

India does not spring immediately to mind as a major source of plants for British gardens. The reason for this is largely environmental – as the larger part…

Ficus benghalensis

1. Ficus benghalensis L. MORACEAE Banyan, बनयान The banyan, a species of wild fig, is one of the most iconic of all Indian trees. Its characteristic appearance as a mature…

Dimocarpus longan

2. Dimocarpus longan Loureiro SAPINDACEAE Longyen, longan; Bengali: ashphal, आशफल A small tree related to the lychee and native of South and South-East Asia. It is cultivated for its…

Leea guineensis

3. Leea guineensis G. Don VITACEAE The name of this genus commemorates James Lee, a Scottish nurseryman, who, with Lewis Kennedy, owned one of the most important of the…

Stephania glandulifera

4. Stephania glandulifera Miers MENISPERMACEAE An extensive climber, which grows from a large tuberous root; it is ‘dioecious’ (having male and female flowers borne on separate plants). This species…

Alpinia zerumbet

5. Alpinia zerumbet (Persoon) B.L. Burtt & R.M. Smith ZINGIBERACEAE Shell ginger It is not certain where this plant was originally native, but somewhere in tropical South or South-East…

Tacca chantrieri

6. Tacca chantrieri André DIOSCOREACEAE One of the so-called ‘bat flowers’, with brownish flowers surrounded by pairs of paler, petal-like bracts and drooping, thread-like bracteoles. This species occurs from…

Tabernaemontana divaricata

7. Tabernaemontana divaricata (L.) R. Brown APOCYNACEAE Crepe jasmine, moonbeam, East Indian rosebay; Hindi: chandani, चांदनी This small tree is native to India but it is widely cultivated…

Kaempferia rotunda

8. Kaempferia rotunda L. ZINGIBERACEAE Hindi: bhumichampa, भूमी चम्पा This plant is a member of the ginger family from tropical South-East Asia. It is widely cultivated, and possibly also…

Agapetes odontocera

9. Agapetes odontocera (Wight) J.D. Hooker ERICACEAE This subtropical relation of the blaeberry (or blueberry) comes from the Khasia Hills in the Indian State of Meghalaya, where it was…

Coelogyne corymbosa

10. Coelogyne corymbosa Lindley ORCHIDACEAE A common orchid of the broad-leaved forest zone of the Sino-Himalayan region, from Nepal eastwards to China, including the Indian states of Sikkim, Arunachal…

Peganum harmala

11. Peganum harmala L. NITRARIACEAE A plant with many uses, both mystical and practical. It is one of the possible identifications for the Vedic plant ‘soma’, and the origin…

Dichrostachys cinerea

12. Dichrostachys cinerea (L.) Wight & Arnott LEGUMINOSAE Hindi: Kunali, कुणाली The genus name Dichrostachys, which was given by the Indian surgeon Robert Wight and the Scottish botanist George…

Schima wallichii

13. Schima wallichii (de Candolle) Korthals THEACEAE An evergreen tree that can reach a height of 30 metres; the generic name may be derived from the Greek skiasma, on…

Dichroa febrifuga

14. Dichroa febrifuga Loureiro HYDRANGEACAE Hindi: basak This shrub is related to the hydrangea. It has attractive blue berries and is widespread in subtropical South-East Asia, occurring up to…

Camellia sinensis

15. Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze var. assamica (Masters) Kitamura THEACEAE Tea; Hindi: chai, चाय The source of the world’s major caffeine drink exists in two wild varieties – the…

Magnolia hodgsonii

16. Magnolia hodgsonii (J.D. Hooker & Thomson) H. Keng This large magnolia is native from Central Nepal to Northern Burma eastwards to Thailand and Yunnan. Its name commemorates…

Trachycarpus latisectus

17. Trachycarpus latisectus Spanner, Noltie and Gibbons PALMAE The Windamere palm On an RBGE expedition in 1992 two trees of this hardy palm were spotted growing outside the Windamere…

Musa sikkimensis

18. Musa sikkimensis Kurz MUSACEAE Unlike the cultivated bananas, the fruits of this wild species are full of large, hard seeds. Whereas most species of banana are truly tropical,…

Carex baccans

19. Carex baccans Nees CYPERACEAE Whereas most sedges have green or brown fruits, this species is unusual in having brightly coloured ones. Although the specific name ‘baccans’ means bearing…

Rhaphidophora glauca

20. Rhaphidophora glauca (Wallich) Schott ARACEAE This is a climbing member of the aroid family. It resembles a smaller form of the familiar Swiss-cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa), a popular…