In memory of BGL Swamy - Plant diversity in a poster





Kaje vrukshalaya, along with DVG baLaga, mangaluru had the privilege of hosting a half day event in memory of a great botanist, linguist, historian and writer Dr. B.G.L swamy. Swamy being the son of prophetic writer D.V.Gundappa may be just a co-incidence or may be not. 2017 happens to be BGL’s birth centenary.

Plant diversity extends to millions of different species. I tried making a collage of different parts of various, nearly unrelated species in a collage. This is rather to depict the huge diversity in plants and their growth, survival techniques. This poster is more to show the un-shown than the shown; to say the unsaid, since it is impossible for anyone to show everything. However, I couldn’t explain the poster enough in the event since we had the field visit as our main program that day. I would just like to list the items of the collage in this post for my own memory and for the reference of those who attended the event that day and other readers, if any. The reader need not memorise the items, but just wonder the ingenuity of nature in its reproduction and survival techniques.

Please see the magnified image in a different tab and continue reading.


  1. Job’s tears or ಜೋಗಿಮಣಿ : Job’s tears is an ancient cereal grain used by mankind. It grows wild in moist, temperate areas including Mangalore district. It’s structure is very interesting in that the hard shell is a covering to the female flower and not a true ovary wall. It is termed ‘involucre’ in botany, which a common reader needn’t worry about! It is a good source of food. I have tried its payasa made at ‘Indraprastha Farm, mysuru’. The shell is very hard and very well serves the purpose it must have been made for. It has a natural hole making it a durable bead which can be stringed together into useful ornaments or items of utility.
  2. Winged seed of terminalia tomentosa or ಬಣ್ಪು : Seeds have hard wings after drying. The wings don’t appear to serve the purpose of flight. Apparently it is to prevent the grazing animals from chewing them. The actual embryo is very small is hardly of any edible use to humans. Most terminalias have the wing like structure either fully developed or partial, sometimes just as a line on the fruit.
  3. Fruit and seed of Ipomea mauritiana ಭೂಚಕ್ರಗಡ್ಡೆ/ನೆಲಕುಂಬಳ : A dehiscent (self-opening) fruit with a seed having cottony cover. Cotton may not be efficient enough to give the seed a flight, but it should be able to hold the moisture for long when gets wet. This could help germination and improve the seed viability and seedling growth.
  4. Winged seed of Petrea volubilis or ಗಿರಿಗಿಟ್ಲೆ ಹೂವು : A nice adaptation for flight
  5. Dried fruit of canna plant : Envelope of the fruit withers naturally on drying enabling the seed to fall. The fruit having been set at nearly 3-4 feet height, will successfully throw the beautiful rock hard seeds on wind blow. Seeds are so hard that they were used as pellets in the air guns in older times.
  6. Seed of an an ornamental climber : Contains an interesting appendage whose purpose I don’t particularly understand
  7. Fruit of an asteraceae member which is actually a bunch containing hundreds of seeds.
  8. Seed of Caryota urens / ಈಂದು/ ಬೈನೆ : Used as an adulterant in coffee powder and areca nut powder. I believe it could have some stimulating properties like areca or coffee.
  9. Seed of commercial rubber plant : A ballistic seed which gets ‘thrown’ from the mother plant. A rough estimate of its flight could be some 10 metres
  10. A bunch of touch me not fruits - mimosa pudica : The fruits have thorny hairs which would prevent them from grazing animals as they grow on open ground. They could also make them stick on moving animals’ skin/fur
  11. A bunch of fruits of a desmodium sp / ಕುದ್ಕ ಬಚ್ಚಿರೆ
  12. A bean of Crotolaria / ಚಗತೆ : The fruit splits open and expels the seeds. The plant has a unique property to grow on the road sides for reasons unknown to me.
  13. A seed of Monkey ladder, a liana / ದಣಪೆಕಾಯಿ / ಪಲ್ಲೆಕಾಯಿ : Seedpod is the largest in the world. Seed has a hardcover and the inner content is a narcotic. Young seeds are edible as vegetable.
  14. A spikelet of a grass species
  15. Fruit and a single seed of a small herb (Id missing)
  16. Seeds of Tussoc Grass (Heteropogon contortus). Seeds twist on drying supposedly making them rotate and bury themselves partially into soil
  17. A mahogany seed : A large part of it is a wing which makes it fall rotating from the tree taking it as far as it  can.
  18. Seeds of a desmodium (heterodendron?) in the fruit bunch
  19. Fruit of wild ladies’ finger / Abelmoschus manihot / ಕಾಡುಬೆಂಡೆ : A self-opening fruit. Opened part shows the seeds attached to the placenta, the feeder to the seeds.
  20. A mini aerial tuber of a dioscorea : Dioscorea is a wonderous plant with 3 different reproductive techniques - an underground tuber, sexually produced seeds, small aerial tubers which help in contingency when the underground tuber is damaged or eaten. The aerial tubers also help the mother plant spread its clone within its vicinity.
  21. A just born seedling of jaggery palm or toddy palm tree  - Caryota urens whose seed is also shown at number 8. This species and many others among palms have achieved revolutionary achievement in evolution. The seed when sprouts gives out a root like structure which sends the germ underground first as deep as it could. Actual germination starts from below the ground where the germ is currently deposited. This helps the plant establish strongly, resist wind and get higher amount of moisture.
  22. A leaf of bauhinia species (22 to 26 show a variety of similar looking leaves which have slight structural differences very distantly related, except 2 bauhinias)
  23. A leaf of diesel tree
  24. Leaf of Hardwickia binata - an important timber and fodder tree. It is supposed to have the hardest timber among the indian trees
  25. A leaf of bauhinia malabarica
  26. 2 leaves of Pithecellobium dulce, the monkey pod tree
  27. A missing index
  28. A leaf of Ficus Krishnae, ಕೃಷ್ಣನ ಬೆಣ್ಣೆ ಬಟ್ಟಲು ಗಿಡ
  29. A fern leaf, called a frond, showing multi level branching
  30. A juvenile leaf of acasia mangium which shows its flat leaf stalk (petiole) and its true leaf at the tip of the stalk. As the plant grows, the true leaf stops appearing only the flat stalk will grow on the tree. This reduces water evaporation enabling acasia trees grow in the drier conditions. So what we call as ‘leaf’ of acasia tree is actually a flattened stalk
  31. A tendril, a spring like holding organ of climbers
  32. A 3 pronged claw at the tip of cat’s claw climber’s ‘claw’ organ
  33. Specimen has dried and doesn’t show the intended feature. Hence to be ignored
  34. A spine turned into a holding organ of dalbergia horrida
  35. Leaf of an asparagus species (a sister species of shatavari). Asparagus leaves are not considered true leaves but an adaptation to adjust to try weather.
  36. A selaginella leaf. It is a fern like plant.
  37. A leaf half devoured by an insect larva
  38. A leaf randomly eaten by an unknown insect larva
  39. A terminalia tomentosa leaf with an extra floral nectary, which can’t be clearly observed in semi-dried specimen
  40. A resinous substance exuded from an unknown forest tree. Resins/gums/dammers are important and useful products that have been extracted from trees for thousands of years and still in use
  41. A sterile leaf of Drynaria quercifolia / ಮರಚಪ್ಪರಿಕೆ
  42. A leaf partially withered after use as mulch.

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