[Himachal GK] Wild Flowers of Western Himalayas

1. Anemone obtusiloba (Wind flower)
    Elevation: 2400-3600 meters

                                                        Anemone obtusiloba (Wind flower)

Anemone or windflower is a perennial herb; with white to deep blue flowers measuring 2-5cm. While the flower often has five petals and the leaves are deeply three lobed and further divided into segments with toothed edges. This lovely flower adores the valleys, meadows, grazing grounds and mountain trails of Himachal Pradesh from the early May to July.


2. Berberis aristata 
(Himalayan Barberry) (Kashmal)
    Elevation: 1600-3000 meters

Berberis aristata (Kashmal)
This medium-sized shrub about 2-3m is widely branched bearing cluster of yellow flowers. After long winters in the Himalayas the plant blooms from late February to March and the clustered purple berries appear in the month of June.  However the flowering and fruit is altitude dependent.  Tri-toothed thorns, yellow branches and elliptic leaves with spines at the edges are the adaption of the plant against animals. The plant prefers sunny exposed valleys and is widely spread in Himachal Pradesh.

Locally the bush is used as a hedge around the terraces, the berry is quiet common among school going kids and birds. The plant is good source for dye and tannin. The plant is also vitally important in the Ayurvedic form of medicine, curing urinary problems, contains an alkaloid Berberine that allow it to act in anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-tumor, and anti-diabetic.


3. Cotoneaster microphyllus 
(Bhedda, Zhunjuru)
    Elevation: 1600-3600 meters

                   Cotoneaster microphyllus (Bhedda, Zhunjuru)

Growing mainly on the exposed rock surfaces this low multi-branched evergreen shrub forms mats and penetrates its roots through the crevices of rocks. The leaves are small and elliptic in shape with dark green mucilage covered leaves. The ripe fruit is red in color and favorite of birds.

Mainly grazed by the Sheppard flocks, in some parts of Himachal the branches are used in basket making.


4. R. Brunonii 
(Himalayan Musk rose)
    Elevation: 1200-2700 meters

                                                   R. Brunonii (Himalayan Musk rose)

Right from the month of May, this lovely Himalayan Wildflower invigorates the surroundings with its fragrance. A tough bush resembling other roses with tiger toothed prickles and small clusters of white flowers bearing five petals.

Commonly found growing along with Himalayan barberry and mainly used as a hedge around the terraces in upper Himachal Pradesh.


5. Bergenia ciliata 
(The Wax Flower)
    Elevation: 1800-3800 meters

                                                      Bergenia ciliata (The Wax Flower)

Growing on shady and moist rock and craggy cliffs Bergenia is easily identified by its white or pinkish cluster of flowers on a thick leafless stalk. The elliptic mucilage laden leaves with their bristly margins clings to the ground.

A vitally important plant in the ayurvedic form of medicine juice or powder of the whole plant is used urinary troubles; relieve earaches. The root is used as a tonic in the treatment of fevers, diarrhea, pulmonary infections, asthma and urinary problems. The root of this plant has a high reputation in indigenous systems of medicine for dissolving stones in the kidneys.


6. Geranium wallichianum 
(Cranesbill) Ratijari
    Elevation: 2300-3500 meters

Geranium wallichianum (Cranesbill) Ratijari

With the onset of monsoons (Late June), in Himachal Geranium family adores the forest and the trails shrubbery. The palmately leaves are divided into 3-5 lobes and toothed around the outer edges. The flowers are deep pink and purple blue. With a wide range of flowers, Geranium family is identified by its flowers, as each petal have dark rays originating from the base.

The name cranesbill originates from the long beaked fruit resembling a crane’s bill. The fruit contains seeds, when ripe they are thrown outside with a great force.

The roots of the plant are used to cure headaches and rheumatic pains.

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