Monsoon 2011 - Making a magical flora discovery in rainy Coorg
Rainy season is the best time to visit Coorg,
blanketing the place as it does in shades of green, be it lush forests,
mountain tops and every other spot. Bhagmandala, the place where the three
rivers, the Kaveri Kannike and Sujyothi merge is no exception and one fine day
at the height of the monsoon season, we walked the woody paths in Bhagmandala.
The drizzle had set in by afternoon, continuing into the evening when suddenly
it took on the shape of a downpour. We retreated to the shelter of the nearby
trees and what do we find here but that hidden in the dark and dense vegetation
were these spectacular young red flowers. We had hit a jackpot! ( 1. Tolypanthus
lagenifer - [Indian Tolypanthus] from the Family Loranthaceae, 2. Cup and Saucer plant [Breynia retusa] -already posted,
3. Unidentified red flower (to be posted))
growing in a
row vertically and on the woody stem (which seemed painted) of a shrub. The bright red leaves here and there, the bell
shape and tubular structures, the stamens and the anthers of the flower were
indeed a feast for our eyes.
for the seven-day itch!
Along came a group of around six buffalos waddling
their way home in the rain, and soon I noticed that the hooves of each buffalo
was bleeding red. Looked like leech
bites. Earlier in the day during an uphill walk along the narrow forest path, I
had noticed a fat leech on my leg blood sucking on an already bleeding wound
for an easy meal. Probably the poor buffalos faced the same multiple bites on
the same wound. Cattle over here, it is believed are able to remove/heal wounds by licking it with their
tongues. But they are helpless when leeches take guard between their hooves. Dogs
are known to remove leaches by killing them with their teeth.
By then, the rains had washed away the dettol on our
legs – which served as protection from leeches and we remembered to smear it
again before we moved on. Every time we
crossed the numerous river streams and nullahs, the power of the dettol seemed
to diminish and the leeches would again climb up our legs forcing us to reapply
dettol. On that particular day, my mate and I had almost finished half a bottle
I noticed leeches trying to climb up our legs and
moving away after smelling dettol - a very effective remedy! Seven to eight
leech bites that day were enough to prolong bleeding (Thanks to anti-clotting
enzyme –Hirudin) for the rest of the day and itching sensation for next four to seven days.
9There appears to be two kinds of leech here – the
smaller one after blotting becomes 1cm in length and the larger one upto 3-4cms.)
I have seen people using varied solutions to prevent/heel
leech bites in different areas –
We were given Shikakai solution, Uppage- Gamboge tree fruit paste ( Garcinia gummi-gutta)
and Quick lime at Gamayana gudda hill,
Uttara Kannada by the Siddi tribals (African aborigins). In Kemmanagundi,
Chikmagalur dist, people suggest tobacco
leaves and match stick flame. At Muthodi the forest guards there use certain
herbs growing along the forest path, Salt and quick lime, We were given Paper in Unchalli forest to stop
bleeding. Coffee powder in Kukke, Mud paste from the same habitat in
Bhagamandala, Coorg…. In Arunachal we used leech guard, Gum boot in Uttara
Kannada & Dettol in Coorg.
When it comes to protecting yourselves from the
leeches, you can take your pick!
Tolypanthus lagenifer - [Indian Tolypanthus]
Bhagamandala, Coorg, Western ghats
Monsoon, 27th Jul 2011