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Monday, July 5, 2010

Kantili Bhatkataiya or the Solanum virginianum: a traditional thorny herb

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Solanum virginianum, or the thorny nightshade or the Katili Bhatkataiya of the taxonomic family Solanaceae is known to me since my childhood. Hindu sisters organize Govardhan Pooja and worship the Govardhan Mountain for long lives of their brothers. For the worship they construct a Govardhan Mountain of Gobar or the cow dung and plant numerous types of thorny bushes on it.

So, on the Day of Govardhan Pooja we had to wake up early and had to move here and there in search of thorny plants. Kantili Bhatkataiya used to be easily available to us and we used to collect this plant by carefully cutting its branches. Now that we live in a city, the Govardhan Pooja is still celebrates by girls in our families. So, boys have to collect these plants by going towards country side. Some cleaver people have developed a business of selling cut portions of these plants, and this is why these plants are hard to find now a days even in country sides. In one way we can say that the plant has become endangered or vulnerable. Recently, I have been fortunate enough to spot this plant growing happily and fearlessly near the Birsa Football Stadium which has been built in the southern most part of the Morabadi ground of Ranchi, the capital city o Jharkhand in India. See how does the plant show its glory and yes, its fruits too.




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