Mass extinction of species through ages

>> Sunday, December 26, 2010

At the end of the International Year of Biodiversity, let us recall the role of nature in extinction. In the current era of extinction of species solely due to human activities, let us say shamelessly, that if nature itself is responsible for greater extinctions, humans should not be cursed for smaller crimes!

The term Mass Extinction refers to any episode of multiple losses of species of plants and animals. However, the term is often used for events of Global Extinction. Global Extinctions have been the disasters when intensive losses of species occurred in all the ecosystems on land and in the sea that affected nearly every part of the earth. Scientists recognize FIVE episodes of mass extinction during the past 500 million years –

First Mass Extinction: It occurred around 438 million years ago in the Ordovician Period during which more than 85 % of species on the earth became extinct. Second Mass Extinction occurred around 367 million years ago near the end of the Devonian period when about 82 % of species became extinct. The Third Mass Extinction occurred around 245 million years ago at the end of the Permian period when about 96 % of species became extinct. The devastation was so great that Paleontologists use this event to mark the end of ancient or the Paleozoic Era and the beginning of the middle or the Mesozoic Era. During this era many new groups of animals and plants evolved on the earth. The Fourth Mass Extinction occurred around 208 million years ago, near the end of the Triassic Period during which about 76 percent species had become extinct from the earth. The populations that had gone extinct during that period mostly belonged to amphibians and reptiles. The Fifth Mass Extinction occurred around 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous Period when about 76 % of the species of the earth including Dinosaurs had gone extinct. It is supposed that this Mass Extinction occurred when one or more big meteorite(s) had struck the earth during the Mesozoic era. This era is also called as the era of reptiles.

Scientists are of the opinion that now the earth is facing the most severe episode of extinction since the extinction of dinosaurs. Biologists say that about 27,000 species are becoming extinct each year, which means: three species per year. The causes of the current mass extinction or the Sixth Mass Extinction are changes in the world climate and anthropogenic pressures. This has come to be known as the 6th mass extinction. The penguin like great auk, the Passenger Pigeon, the Balinese tiger, the quagga, and the moa etc. are the victims of the 6th mass extinction. The passenger pigeon were once abundant in many parts of the world but it became extinct in 1914 as a result of hunting and habitat destruction.

Key words : mass extinction, international year for biodiversity,hunting, habitat destruction


Sustenance of mankind in the resource- limited environment

The environment of any place or area can support only a fixed number of organisms, up to a fixed period of time. This is called as carrying capacity of the environment. Similarly, the ecosystem of an area can support a fixed number of organisms up to a fixed period of time. After that the organisms dependent on such an area of ecosystem are sure to collapse. We say when an ecosystem has to bear the load of populations beyond its carrying capacity and when its components including the biodiversity are exploited, over used and abused by human beings, most of the ecological processes get disrupted leading to a dangerous imbalance.

Today, in the unplanned technological development, resources are exploited, used or overused up to such an extent that the ecosystem looses its carrying capacity. On the other hand, an ecosystem has the capacity of absorbing and assimilating pollutants disposed into it by human beings. But a time comes when the ecosystem looses its carrying capacity to absorb and assimilate these pollutants. As a result they join natural cycle of substances and accumulate in consumers to cause deadly biomagnifications. Thus an imbalanced environment can no longer support and sustain life existing in it. Since resources are limited, and most of the resources that support life and build up the back bone of today’s development come from the biodiversity sources, it is difficult rather impossible for the natural environment to sustain the exploding human population.
The earlier model of unplanned technological economic development had no provision of equity. Thus economic disparity and poverty increased in a fast speed. Poor continued to become poorer whereas the rich continued to become richer.

The U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in one of his public addresses had once stated in 1937- The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much: it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

Sustenance of mankind and the balance of nature have close links with the diversity of cultures and organisms. Many cultures and traditions enrich and support biodiversity and biodiversity is essential for our growth and progress. Thus sustenance of mankind and eco friendly activities that promote traditional knowledge and traditional practices are important for the conservation of our age old traditions, culture, biodiversity and traditional knowledge.

A very big reason behind the risks against the sustenance of mankind is unsustainable consumption- overuse and wastage of resources. Here is a direct quote of some paragraphs from the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, U N Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development.

Fundamental changes in the way societies produce and consume are indispensable for achieving global sustainable development. All countries should promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, with the developed countries taking the lead and with all countries benefiting from the process, taking into account the Rio principles, including, inter alia, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities as set out in principle 7 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. Governments, relevant international organizations, the private sector and all major groups should play an active role in changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns. This would include the actions at all levels set out below.

Encourage and promote the development of a 10-year framework of programmes in support of regional and national initiatives to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production to promote social and economic development within the carrying capacity of ecosystems by addressing and, where appropriate, delinking economic growth and environmental degradation through improving efficiency and sustainability in the use of resources and production processes and reducing resource degradation, pollution and waste. All countries should take action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development needs and capabilities of developing countries, through mobilization, from all sources, of financial and technical assistance and capacity-building for developing countries. This would require actions at all levels to:
(a) Identify specific activities, tools, policies, measures and monitoring and assessment mechanisms, including, where appropriate, life-cycle analysis and national indicators for measuring progress, bearing in mind that standards applied by some countries may be inappropriate and of unwarranted economic and social cost to other countries, in particular developing countries;
(b) Adopt and implement policies and measures aimed at promoting sustainable patterns of production and consumption, applying, inter alia, the polluter-pays principle described in principle 16 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development;
(c) Develop production and consumption policies to improve the products and services provided, while reducing environmental and health impacts, using, where appropriate, science-based approaches, such as life-cycle analysis;
(d) Develop awareness-raising programmes on the importance of sustainable production and consumption patterns, particularly among youth and the relevant segments in all countries, especially in developed countries, through, inter alia, education, public and consumer information, advertising and other media, taking into account local, national and regional cultural values;
(e) Develop and adopt, where appropriate, on a voluntary basis, effective, transparent, verifiable, non-misleading and non-discriminatory consumer information tools to provide information relating to sustainable consumption and production, including human health and safety aspects. These tools should not be used as disguised trade barriers;
(f) Increase eco-efficiency, with financial support from all sources, where mutually agreed, for capacity-building, technology transfer and exchange of technology with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, in cooperation with relevant international organizations.

Increase investment in cleaner production and eco-efficiency in all countries through; inter alia, incentives and support schemes and policies directed at establishing appropriate regulatory, financial and legal frameworks. This would include actions at all levels to:
(a) Establish and support cleaner production programmes and centres and more efficient production methods by providing, inter alia, incentives and capacity-building to assist enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly in developing countries, in improving productivity and sustainable development;
(b) Provide incentives for investment in cleaner production and eco-efficiency in all countries, such as state-financed loans, venture capital, technical assistance and training programmes for small and medium-sized companies while avoiding trade-distorting measures inconsistent with the rules of the World Trade Organization;
(c) Collect and disseminate information on cost-effective examples in cleaner production, eco-efficiency and environmental management and promote the exchange of best practices and know-how on environmentally sound technologies between public and private institutions;
(d) Provide training programmes to small and medium-sized enterprises on the use of information and communication technologies.
Integrate the issue of production and consumption patterns into sustainable development policies, programmes and strategies, including, where applicable, into poverty reduction strategies.

Enhance corporate environmental and social responsibility and accountability. This would include actions at all levels to:
(a) Encourage industry to improve social and environmental performance through voluntary initiatives, including environmental management systems, codes of conduct, certification and public reporting on environmental and social issues, taking into account such initiatives as the International Organization for Standardization standards and Global Reporting Initiative guidelines on sustainability reporting, bearing in mind principle 11 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development;
 (b) Encourage dialogue between enterprises and the communities in which they operate and other stakeholders;
(c) Encourage financial institutions to incorporate sustainable development considerations into their decision-making processes;
(d) Develop workplace-based partnerships and programmes, including training and education programmes.

Encourage relevant authorities at all levels to take sustainable development considerations into account in decision-making, including on national and local development planning, investment in infrastructure, business development and public procurement. This would include actions at all levels to:
(a) Provide support for the development of sustainable development strategies and programmes, including in decision-making on investment in infrastructure and business development;
(b) Continue to promote the internalization of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments, taking into account the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the costs of pollution, with due regard to the public interest and without distorting international trade and investment; 
 (c) Promote public procurement policies that encourage development and diffusion of environmentally sound goods and services;
(d) Provide capacity-building and training to assist relevant authorities with regard to the implementation of the initiatives listed in the present paragraph;
(e) Use environmental impact assessment procedures.

Key words : sustainable development,resource limitation, carrying capacity,unsustainable consumption


A nationwide drive to develop and reorient science and technology in India

>> Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Vigyan Jyot for the 98th Indian Science Congress was flagged off by Prof. Dinesh Singh, the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University at Shri Venkateshwar College in New Delhi. It is a movement inspired by Vision 2020 of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India.

The aim of Vigyan Jyot is to encourage a scientific temper among the youth and to spread the message of “Science for a billion people”. It is a nationwide inspirational drive which is to travel across 10 cities of India ending its journey at S R M University in Chennai, the site of 98th Indian Science Congress which is to take place from 3rd January to 7th January 2011. The Congress is expected to be inaugurated by Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India. The initiative of Vigyan Jyot is conceptualized and orgnised by Science and Technology Organisation MMactive and the 98th Indian Science Congress. Other institutions supporting the initiative are the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan and the National Service Scheme.

According to Ravi Boratkar, the Organising Secretary of Vigyan Jyot and 98th Indian Science Congress, it was the second edition of Vigyan Jyot which was being taken across the country for the first time. The Vigyan Jyot is represented by a flaming torch. Starting from the National capital it has been scheduled to travel across Jaipur, Gwalior, Jhansi, Bhopal, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Chennai.

It is reported that this year’s Indian Science Congress will address key issues and will deliberate on major challenges that are being posed by changing dynamics in the arena of Science and Technology. The focal theme of the congress is the importance of innovation fuelled by a strong research base and quality education in the areas of science and technology to attract talented people towards various researches. The emphasis during the 98th Indian Science Congress will be laid down on –

·         Creating network of research and development institutes
·         Promoting innovation in academics and industries
·         Offering incentives, fellowships and rewards

The thrust areas of 98th Indian Science Congress are – Chemistry, Nanotechnology, Environmental Science, Medical Sciences, Electronics Sector, Climate Change, Space Science and Technology and Transportation. With the increasing orientation of youth towards employment at post teenage stage, a major part of the academic traffic is moving towards vocational courses. The conditions of research and research facilities in many of the Indian Universities and in various research institutions, is not sound. Hence the need of the time is to motivate students towards higher studies leading to quality researches and innovations in science and technology.

Key words: Vigyan Jyot, Indian Science Congress, research, message of Science


What are food- preservatives?

>> Friday, December 24, 2010

Substances that are added to food items in order to inhibit, retard or arrest the process of fermentation, acidification or decomposition of food items are called as preservatives.

Preservatives have been kept under two broad classes- Class I preservatives and Class II Preservatives. Some class-I preservatives are: common salt, sugar, dextrose, glucose syrup, spices, vinegar or acetic acid, honey and edible vegetable oil. These preservatives can be mixed in any food product, unless otherwise provided in the rules. Class II preservatives are Benzoic acid and its salts; sulphurous acid and its salts; Nitrates or Nitrites of Sodium or Potassium (in meat products like ham and pickled meat); Sorbic acid and its Sodium , Potassium or calcium salts; propionates of calcium or sodium; Lactic acid and acid calcium phosphate ; Nicin; propionates of Sodium and Calcium ; Methyl or Propyl Parahydroxy- Benzoate; Propionic acid, their salts and esters; sodium diacetate and Sodium, Potassium and calcium salts of Lactic acid.

According to law no person is allowed to use more than one preservative of class II on one particular food item. As per law Sulphur dioxide or Benzoic acid can be added in the proportion of 40 parts per million or 200 parts per million respectively. The use of each one of the class II preservatives is specified and restricted under law.

Key words : food- preservatives, law,fermentation


What is Plant Quarantine?

According to the international law, the regulation of a country which imposes a period of time during which a ship arriving in port is forbidden to download goods or passengers because of the suspicion that it may be carrying germs of some contagious diseases is called as quarantine.

We have sufficient evidence of the fact that many diseases reach to our country through imported goods and gradually get disseminated in the whole country. We regularly import many types of agricultural produce, plants, seeds etc. from foreign country. These goods may carry seeds of weeds and microorganisms of various deadly diseases. The Govt of India passed Destructive Insects and Pests Act in 1914 which enables Quarantine Department to check and test imported goods before allowing them to be carried inside the country.

A code of International Sanitary Regulations was added by nations of the world in 1850 in a conference at Paris. Later on, all the nations of the world adopted this code and enforced it in their commercial relations with one another. Plant quarantine relates to the part of the same international code which imposes a series of tests of the plant materials exported to a country before their entry. According to regulations under Plant Quarantine, nothing of plant origin is allowed to enter into a country without passing through a test of sanitation. If concerned authorities are satisfied that the goods coming to their country are safe and are not infected with contagious disease, they issue a certificate to it and allow it to enter into the territory of their country. Plant quarantine stations are usually established at sea ports and air ports through which most of the import and export is done regularly between two countries.

As per the Indian regulations - any agency wishing to import plant species or plant products into India from any foreign land must follow Plant Quarantine (Regulation of import into India) Order, 2003(amended).
Following are the regulations for the permit required for import of plants and plant products -
 (1) No consignment of plants and plant products, if found infested or infected with a quarantine pest or contaminated with noxious weed species shall be permitted to be imported.
(2) Every vessel carrying out bulk shipment of grains shall be inspected on board by an officer duly authorized by Plant Protection Adviser before the same accorded permission to offload the grain at the notified port of entry. On inspection, if found free from quarantine pests and noxious weed species, permission shall be accorded to off- load the grain at the port or order fumigation/treatment of grain on board or immediately upon unloading at the port, as the case may be, before such permission is granted for movement outside the port and subject to such conditions as imposed thereon.
(3) The bulk shipment (s) of transgenic plants or plant products or genetically modified organisms shall be dealt as per the provisions of the Rules for manufacture, use, import, export and storage of hazardous micro-organisms, Genetically engineered organisms or cells made under Sections 6, 8 and 25 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) or under the mechanism established as per the provisions of Bio-safety Protocol by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Following are the regulations that cover the import of wood and timber -
 (1) Notwithstanding that no import permit is required under these rules in respect of any consignment of wood or timber of plant specified in Schedule VII, no such consignment shall be brought into India unless such consignment fulfils the following conditions, namely:-
(i) the wood with bark shall be fumigated prior to export with methyl bromide at 48 g/m3 for 24 hrs at 21oC or above or equivalent thereof or any other treatment duly approved by the Plant Protection Adviser and the treatment shall be endorsed on the Phytosanitary certificate issued thereof at the country of export; or
(ii) the timber or sawn or sized wood (without bark) prior to export shall be either fumigated as above or kiln dried or heat treated at 56oC for 30 min (core temperature of wood) and appropriately marked as ‘KD’ or ‘HT’, as the case may be, and in such instances no Phytosanitary certificate shall be required, but a treatment certificate issued by the approved agency shall be required to be produced before the Plant Protection Adviser.
(2) All the consignments of timber shall be inspected on board prior to unloading at the port of arrival by an officer duly authorized by Plant Protection Adviser and, if necessary, fumigated or treated on board before unloading: Provided that no such inspection shall be necessary in case of containerized cargo.
(3) The containerized cargo of timber or sawn or seized wood without bark shall be inspected by an authorized Plant Quarantine Officer after unloading of the containers from the ship at the port of container freight station or Inland Container Depots under the jurisdiction of concerned Plant Quarantine Station.
(4) The provision of this Order shall not apply to consignments of processed wood material such as plywood, particleboard, oriental strand board or veneer that have been manufactured by using glue, heat and pressure or combination thereof.
Here are some special conditions for import of plant species -
 (1) In addition to the general conditions listed above in Chapter-II, the plant species herein after mentioned in Schedule-V and VI shall not be permitted to be imported except when specifically authorized or covered under import permit issued by an appropriate issuing authority and subject to such restrictions and conditions specified in this Chapter.
(2) Every consignment of plant species herein specified in Schedule-V and VI shall be accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate issued by the authorized officer at country of origin or Phytosanitary Certificate–re export issued by the country of re-export along with attested copy of original phytosanitary certificate, as the case may be, with the additional declarations being free from pests mentioned under Schedule-V and VI of this order or that the pests as specified do not occur in the country or state of origin as supported by documentary evidence thereof.
(3) General conditions shall apply to all consignments including in respect of those mentioned in Schedule V, VI and VII.

The Post Entry Quarantine regulations are -
 (1) Plants and seeds, which require post-entry quarantine as laid down in Schedule V and VI of this order, shall be grown in post-entry quarantine facilities duly established by importer at his cost, approved and certified by the Inspection Authority as per the guidelines prescribed by the Plant Protection Adviser.
(2) The period for which, and the conditions under which, the plants and seeds shall be grown in such facilities shall be specified in the permit granted under clause 3.
(3) Nothing contained in Sub-clause (1) shall apply to the import of tissue-cultured plants that are certified virus-free as per Schedule-V and VI, but such plants, shall be subjected to inspection at the point of entry to ensure that the phytosanitary requirements are met with.
(4) Every application for certification of post-entry quarantine facilities shall be submitted to the inspection authority in Form PQ 18. The inspection authority if satisfied after necessary inspection and verification of facilities shall issue a certificate in Form PQ 19.
(5) At the time of arrival of the consignment, the importer shall produce this certificate before the Officer- in-Charge of the Quarantine Station at the entry point along with an undertaking in form PQ 20.
(6) If the Officer- in-Charge of the Quarantine Station, after inspection of the consignment is satisfied, shall accord quarantine clearance with post-entry quarantine condition on the production, by an importer, of a certificate from the inspection authority with the stipulation that the plants shall be grown in such post-entry quarantine facility for the period specified in the import permit.
(7) After according quarantine clearance with post-entry quarantine conditions to the consignments of plants and seeds requiring post-entry quarantine, the Officer-in-Charge of the Quarantine Station at the entry point shall inform the inspection authority, having jurisdiction over the post-entry quarantine facility, of their arrival at the location where such plants would be grown by the importer.
(8) It shall be the responsibility of the importer or his agent -
(i) to intimate the inspection authority in advance about the date of planting of the imported plant or seed.
(ii) not to transfer or part with or dispose the consignment during the pendency of post-entry quarantine except in accordance with a written approval of inspection authority.
(iii) to permit the inspection authority complete access to the post-entry quarantine facility at all times and abide by the instructions of such inspection authority.
(iv) to maintain an inspection kit containing all requisite items to facilitate nursery inspection and ensure proper plant protection and upkeep of nursery records.
(v) to extend necessary facilities to the inspection authority during his visit to the nursery and arrange destruction of any part or whole of plant population when ordered by him in the event of infection or infestation by a quarantine pest, in a manner specified by him.
(9) The inspection authority of concerned area of jurisdiction or any officer authorized by the Plant Protection Adviser in this behalf, in association with a team of experts shall inspect the plants grown in the approved post-entry quarantine facility at such intervals as may be considered necessary in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Plant Protection Adviser, with a view to detect any pests and advise necessary phytosanitary measures to contain the pests.
(10) The inspection authority shall permit the release of plants from post-entry quarantine, if they are found to be free from pests and diseases for the period specified in the permit for importation.
(11) Where the plants in the post-entry quarantine are found to be affected by pests and diseases during the specified period the inspection authority shall:-
(i) order the destruction of the affected consignment of whole or a part of the plant population in the post-entry quarantine if the pest or disease is exotic, or (ii) advise the importer about the curative measures to be taken to the extent necessary, if the pest or disease is not exotic and permit the release of the affected population from the post-entry quarantine only after curative measures have been observed to be successful. Otherwise, the plants shall be ordered to be destroyed.
 (12) Where destruction of any plant population is ordered by the inspection authority, the importer shall destroy the same in the manner as may be directed by the inspection authority and under his supervision
(13) At the end of final inspection, the inspection authority shall forward a copy of the report of
Post-entry quarantine inspection duly signed by him to the Plant Protection Adviser under intimation to officer- in-charge of concerned plant quarantine station.
(14) The importer shall be liable to pay the prescribed fee for inspection of plants in the Post-entry.

Key words: quarantine, regulations, import, post-entry


Bharngi(Clerodendrum sp.)- an amazing plant

>> Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three months ago I chanced to see a Turk’s turban in the sal forest of Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi, a premier institute of India. I got fascinated by its appearance and beauty and wondered how alone a plant of about 3 feet in height was there. I walked here and there for a long time under the canopies of sal trees but could not see another one. I liked and loved its boldness, erectness, phyllotaxy, inflorescence and its colours – leaves deep green and inflorescence off-white and lovely with stamens looking out of graceful flowers. Since then where ever I moved in the state, I could not become fortunate enough to see another Turk’s turban, yes the great beautiful, lovely and bold under shrub of immense medicinal value. Many of you may be well aware of the plant, many might have done commendable researches on it, yet many may still be astonishing about it and its nomenclature – the Turk’s Turban.

Nomenclature of the plant
Turk’s turban is taxonomically known as Clerodendrum indicum or Clerodendrum indicum (L.) Kuntze. It belongs to family Verbenaceae. In Ayurveda it is known as a member of Nirgundi family. Its other names are Tube- flower and Skyrocket (in English), Bharangi (in Hindi), Bharngi in Sanskrit, and Bharangi in Guajarati. Its synonyms are Siphonanthus indicus, Clerodendrum sahelangii, Clerodendron indicum, - serratum and -Ovieda mitis. Glory Bower, bag flower and bleeding heart are its other names.
The Sanskrit word Bharngi literally means glorious. There is another name for the same plant and that is Bhrguja which implies a relation with the great sage Bhrigu. The peculiarities of the plant has been described by its various names like Kharasaka – plant with rough leaves, Padma – flowers looking like lotus, vatari – an enemy of vata dosha, Kasagni – which alleviates cough.
Habit and Habitat

Turk's turban or tube flower is a semi woody shrub or returning perennial, 6-9 ft (1.8-2.7 m) tall and only slightly, if at all, branched. The stem is hollow and the leaves are elliptic and 6-8 in (15-20 cm) long, borne in whorls of four on very short petioles. The inflorescence is huge, consisting of many tubular snow white flowers in a terminal cluster up to 2 ft (0.6 m) long. The tubes of the flowers are about 4 in (10 cm) long and droop downward, and the expanded corollas are about 2 in (5 cm) across. The fruits are attractive dark metallic blue drupes, about a half inch in diameter.
It is generally found in the area that is about 4000 feet in height. It is more commonly found in areas with moderate temperature. It is also found in temperate zone Tube flower is reported to be native to the Malay Archipelago. However it is reported to be native of many other parts of the world too. In India it is found in the eastern region of Himalaya like Kumaun, Assam, Bengal, Bihar and regions of Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mani Pur, Orissa, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, and Uttar Pradesh etc regions. It is also found in Bhutan, Nepal, Srilanka, Indo-China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Malesia, Philippines etc. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant and has become naturalized in South America, the West Indies and much of the southern U.S., where it grows in disturbed sites and especially along road shoulders.
Morphological Features of the plant
It has a perennial bushy plant that attains a height of 2-8 feet in height. Stem is hollow. Leaves are 3-6 inch in length and 2 to 3 inch in breadth. These are rough having dentate at the edges, spear shaped. Leaves are borne in whorls and have short petioles. The inflorescence is large and bears tubular flowers that bear white or bluish colored flowers and it is about 2 feet in length and one inch broad. These flowers have good odor. The tubes of the flower are about 8 centimeter in length that droops down. Fruit is circular and has a height of ¼ inch in length and 1/6 to ½ inch broad. It is pulpy and when it ripe, it changes to dark purple to black in color. The flowering and fruiting of this plant has been reported to occur during summer and rainy seasons. There are some 400 species of Clerodendrum (sometimes misspelled as Clerodendron). Several species are grown for their strikingly beautiful flowers. Flaming glorybower is a beautiful tropical vine or sprawling shrub with scarlet flowers. Scented glorybower or Cashmere bouquet (C. bungei) is an invasive weed in Florida, listed by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.




Images 1 - 4: Different moods of Clerodendrum

The inflorescence of the plant is terminal. Sepals are usually connate or often coloured. The tube of corolla remains five lobed and lobes often remain unequal. Each flower contains 4 to 5 stamens that remain in two pairs of unequal length. Stamens project beyond the mouth of corolla. Each ovary has four locules and number of ovules remains 4.The style remains terminal on the ovary and stigma remains bifid. Fruits of the plant are drupe with four grooves.

Clerodendrums have an unusual pollination syndrome which avoids self pollination. Yao-Wu Yuan et al (2010) have reported that this mating system combines dichogmy and herkogamy.

Chemical Constituents of the plant or Pharmacology

The bark of the root contains phenolic glycoside and sepogenin as active ingredient. Sepogenin is very helpful as an anti- histamine agent and it is very much effective in preventing the bodies or over active reaction of the body towards any external agent entering the body.  The sapogenin mixture contains three major triterpenoid constitutent’s oleonolic acid, queretaroic acid and serratagenic acid. The root bark yields a glycoside material, phenolic in natures. D – Mannitol is isolated from the bark with a yield of 10.9 %. The powdered stem contains D- mannitol, D- glucoside of sitosterol, sitosterol and acetyl alcohol. Alcoholic extract and saponin isolated from root bark caused release of histamine from lung tissue.

Ayurveda reports that this plant is kapha and vata suppressant. It is a good anti-inflammatory agent and also helps in healing of wounds. It improves circulation of blood in the body. Bhangri is also helpful in improving the digestive activities of the body. It acts on respiratory system thus expelling out the excessive mucus in the tract relieving from cough, cold and asthmatic symptoms. It opens the body pores and increases the sweating in the body. According to ayurveda, it contains Gunna (properties) - laghu (light) and ruksh (rough) Rasa (taste) - tickta (bitter), katu (pungent) Virya (potency) - ushna (hot).
Medicinal and ethno-herbological properties
Bharngi is bitter, pungent and astringent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency (Virya). It alleviates kapha and vata doshas. It possesses light and dry attributes. According to Raja Nighantu, it is useful in asthma, cough, fever, worms, burning sensation of the body and wounds.
The roots and leaves of bharngi have great medicinal value. The plant is useful, both, internally as well as externally. The leaves are useful as an external application for cephalalgia and ophthalmia. The pulp of the leaves applied externally, mitigates the glandular swellings and hastens the wound healing. The juice of its leaves is applied on the lesions in erysipelas. The root paste applied on the forehead alleviates headache.
Internally bharngi is used in vast range of diseases. It is an appetizer, lacative and digests ama, hence is beneficial in anorexia, tumours and distaste. The decoction of bharngi root is extremely effective in oedema over body, especially due to kapha. The plant works well as a blood purifier. The decoction of sesame seeds (tila), mixed with ghee, jaggery, trikatu powder (sunthi, marica and pippali) and bharngi root powder is the best medicament for amenorrhea and uterine tumours which is called as Rakta- gulma in Sanskrit.
Bharngi is the most valuable herb to take internally in respiratory ailments and for all fevers in general. In Konkan the leaves of the plant are used as vegetables in malarial fever. As bharngi effectively liquefies the mucous, it is salutary in respiratory problems like colds, bronchitis, bronchial asthma and tuberculosis. In such conditions, varied combinations of bharngi are recommended. Susruta and Bhavamisra have also described the medicinal properties of the plant particularly for respiratory complaints viz. asthma. Susruta has mentioned it as a panacea for epilepsy and also as stanyasodhaka – lactodepurant Vagbhata has cited its usefulness in cough due to kapha and vata. Caraka has categorized it as purisa sangrahaniya – gives form to faeces.
The juice of its roots and ginger relieves bronchospasms in asthma. In cough due to kapha and vata, the jam prepared of sesame oil, jaggery, bharngi and sunthi is beneficial. It works well with pippali, sunthi and jaggery to curb the spasms and bouts of cough. In hiccup, the root powder is given along with sugar, or its jam. The combination of bharngi and pippali (2: 1) with honey, is also an effective remedy for hiccup. The decoction of bharngi roots is benevolent in worm infestations.

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Key words: Clerodendrum, Bharangi, Srusrut, Bhavamisra, Phylogenetics, vata, kapha


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