Aak

Characteristics:

Habit: Calotropis procera is a woody perennial that produces white or lavender flowers. The branches grows upwards away from the center. The plant has an ash-coloured bark covered with white fuzz.
Root: It has a 3-4 m deep taproot and a secondary root system with woody lateral roots that can rapidly regenerate adventitious shoots, when a part of the plant is injured.

Stem: The younger stems are greyish-green in colour, smooth in texture, and have a covering of whitish coloured hairs. Mature stems have a deeply fissured, cork-like bark that is light brown in colour.
Leaves: The plant has silver-green large leaves that grow on opposite sides on the stem.

Flower: The flowers grow on the stems’ apex and produce fruits.
Fruit: The fruit of Aak is oval and curved at the ends of the pods. The fruit is thick; when opened is the source of fibers that can be used in many ways.

Seed: It has brown, flattened seeds (about 6 mm long and 4 mm wide) that are topped with a tuft (i.e. coma) of long, white, silky hairs (35-50 mm long) which helps in their dispersal.

Pollinators: NA

Visiting Insects – This year we saw locusts eat all the leaves of the aak plant.

A green and yellow grasshopper is a common visitor on the leaves of the aak plant.

Visiting Mammals – Young seed pods, leaves and flowers that are dying can be fed to goats, sheep and camels.

Seed Dispersal: The seed has a parachute of silky hair which allow them to be carried by air.

Where they grow: Found mostly in semi-arid and arid inland areas, as well as in the drier parts of tropical and sub-tropical regions. They are common in India.

Uses:
Medicinal: All parts of the Aak plant are used in Ayurveda. The principal constituent found in the leaves of the plant is Mudarine. A powerful anti-bacterial enzyme has also been identified in the latex.

Some uses are:
The powdered leaves can help heal wounds faster
The root and leaf of this plant is used for asthma and shortness of breath

Smoke from the bark is inhaled for cough and asthma
The bark of the stem and the root, and the fruit pod is prescribed for liver and spleen diseases.

Its milk acts as a purgative and an emetic agent
The root bark of this plant is very useful in treating digestive problems such as constipation, indigestion and intestinal worms. It stimulates the digestion and stops diarrhoea

A hot poultice made from the leaves can be applied on the joints to relieve arthritic pain and inflammation, and other joint disorders.
Studies have shown that Aak has potential to be used as anti-cancer, anti-coagulant and as an anti-fungal agent.

Agroforestry: The wood yields a fibrous substance that is used for rope, fishing line and thread. It also has tannins, latex, rubber and a dye that are used in industrial practices.

Aak can act as a soil binder and as a nurse crop for more valuable species in afforestation programmes (Orwa et al., 2009; Campolucci et al., 1990). It has been used as source of green manure in rice fields (Orwa et al., 2009; Banta et al., 1984).

Aak improves soil nutrients and moisture binding, an important property in some of the more arid areas of India. The plant is tolerant of dry and salty conditions and can easily be established in over-cultivated areas to help improve the soil conditions and reinvigorate the land.
Food: NA

Arandi

Arandi (Ricinus communis)

Characteristics:

Habit: Ricinus communis can vary greatly in its growth habit and appearance. It is a fast-growing shrub that sends out suckers. It can reach the size of a small tree, around 12 m (39 ft), but it is not cold hardy.

Root: It has a tap root.
Stem: The plants are multi-stemmed. Stems are covered with a white powder and they are hollow inside. The stems produce clear, watery sap when cut.

Leaves: The glossy leaves are 15–45 cm (6–18 in) in length, long-stalked, alternate and palmate with five to twelve deep lobes with coarsely toothed segments.

Flower: The flowers lack petals and are unisexual (male and female) where both types are borne on the same plant in terminal inflorescences of green or, in some varieties, shades of red. The male flowers are numerous, yellowish-green with prominent creamy stamens. The female flowers, borne at the tips of the spikes (that lie within the immature spiny capsules), are relatively few in number and have prominent red stigmas

Fruit: The fruit is a spiny, greenish to reddish-purple capsule containing large, oval, shiny, bean-like, highly poisonous seeds with variable brownish mottling.

Seed: Castor seeds have a warty appendage called the caruncle, which is a type of elaiosome. Elaiosomes are fleshy bits that hold fats and proteins. The caruncle promotes dispersal of the seed through ants.

Pollinators: Honey bees help in pollination of the castor plant. Pollen is mainly shed in the morning and flowers are wind-pollinated. They are capable of self- and cross-pollination.

Visiting Insects: Ricinus communis is the host plant of the Common Castor Butterfly, the Eri silkmoth), and the Castor Semi-Looper Moth). It is also used as a food plant by the larvae of some other species of Lepidoptera, the Nutmeg.

Seed Dispersal: The fruit bursts and throws the seed out which is then dispersed by ants who are attracted to the caruncle of the castor seed.

Where they grow: Castor is indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India, but is widespread throughout tropical regions.

Uses:
Medicinal: Castor seed is the source of castor oil, which has a wide variety of uses. The seeds contain between 40% and 60% oil that is rich in triglycerides, mainly ricinolein.

The seed also contains ricin, a water-soluble toxin, which is also present in lower concentrations throughout the plant. Castor oil was given to school children when they had upset stomachs.

In case of muscular injury without bleeding, leaf paste with mustard oil is applied on the affected area; leaf paste is applied on head to relieve headache. The oil is used as an anti-dandruff aid.

Warning: The chemical Ricin found in the castor seed is very poisonous. It must be used with caution. Leaves boiled with maize grain is used as a rat killer.

Awal

Awal (Cassia auriculata/ Senna auriculata)

Characteristics:

Habit: It is a shrub.

Root: The root penetrates deep into the soil and holds the plant in place even if the soil is poor.

Stem: Stem is smooth and reddish brown in colour.

Leaves: The compound leaves are oval.

Flower: It flowers through the year and has bright yellow flowers. The flowers are upright, appearing at the end of a twig.

Fruit: The fruit pod is long, it starts out as green and turns brown when ready to spread the seeds.

Seed: The seeds are small, flat and warped discs. Each pod has less than 25 seeds.

Pollinators: Insects and sun birds

Root parasite/ bacteria/ microorganism:
Being a leguminous plant, it helps fix Nitrogen in the soil with the help of a bacteria that attach itself to the roots.

Visiting Insects: Bees and butterflies. The caterpillars of emigrating butterflies feed on this plant

Visiting birds: Sun bird

Visiting mammals: Cattle do not eat it

Seed dispersal: The seeds use mechanical dispersal methods or barochory, or take help of gravity for seed dispersal. It self-propagates itself. The seeds disperse from the pods and germinate on sites with favourable conditions. The ripe dry fruits burst and scatters the seeds.

Where they grow: It grows in India and is a hardy perennial. It can grow in a wide range of climates and tolerates poor soils as well. It is a leguminous plant, thus adds to the fertility of the soil. It is found from the coastal plains up to 1000 m on the hill slopes.

Uses:
Medicinal:

It is most effective in cases of diabetes
It is quite effective in cases of conjunctivitis. It helps in skin diseases and in cases of severe dry skin
It is less effective when suffering from acid reflux but can be tried.
It contains chemicals like Beta Pinene, Limonene, Terpineol, Tannins, Bisabolene, Citral and Turpenoids.

The parts used are: the roots, the bark, the leaves, the gum, the flowers and the seeds.

Agroforestry: NA
Other uses: A black dye is obtained from the bark of Senna auriculata.
A fiber is obtained from the inner bark.
The wood is sometimes used to make handles for small tools.

Ber

Ber (Ziziphus mauritiana)

Characteristics:

Habit: Shrub or a small tree

Root: It has a deep tap root which helps it seek and store water and nutrition in extreme drought.

Stem: The trunk of a full grown tree is around 40 cm in diameter. It is covered with a dark grey or dull black, irregularly fissured bark.

Leaves: The leaves are leathery, oval in shape, simple and grow alternately on the stem. They have 3 longitudinal veins. The top is dark and glossy, the underside is hairy. The tree loses its leaves between March and May.

Flower: The tree flowers between July and October. The 5- petaled flowers are tiny and yellow in colour. They grow in twos and threes on the axil (the place where the leaf is attached to the stem) of the leaves.

The flowers depend on cross-pollination by insects attracted by the fragrance and nectar. Pollen of the Indian jujube is thick and heavy. In forests, ants help in pollination as well.

Fruit: The tree grows fast and will fruit in three years. The fruit which is green when young and yellow (maybe a little shrivelled) when ripening, is edible. It can be sweet or sweet-sour.

Seed: It contains two seeds of 6 mm housed in an oval shell at the centre. These are distributed by birds and will grow into saplings for two years after maturing. Beyond two years, they start to lose their ability to grow.

Pollinators: Bees, beetlse, bird, moths, ants are common pollinators
Visiting Insects: Many insects visit the ber tree for its fruit. One really interesting insect visits it to build its pupa. (Tripti can you please write about the insect that builds that amazing pupa and attaches it with such a strong binder)

Visiting birds: Sparrows, parrots and other birds visit the ber tree for its sweet fruit.

Visiting Mammals: Goat, deer, sambar, boar, humans and bats

Seed Dispersal: Birds, animals and humans eat the ber fruit and throw the seed, thus dispersing it.

Where they grow: The ber tree grows widely from Africa to China.
The ber plant is very hardy. It can grow with very little water and survive in extremes of temperatures (7C to 50C). As a result, it is suited to dry conditions. On the other hand, it tolerates water logging too. Ber trees can grow upto a height of 1650m.

Uses:
Medicinal: In traditional medicine of Ayurveda, the leaves, fruits, bark and even the roots are used to cure various ailments. These include: colds and flu, malnutrition related diseases in children, convulsions, indigestion. The oil from seeds is believed to have potential as a treatment for skin disorders.

It is quite nutritious and rich in vitamin C, second only to guavas.
Agroforestry: The wood is finely grained and hard. It has been used to line wells, to build the legs of charpais (the local beds which have a base of woven cotton strips or rope).

The oil from its seeds may have a use as bio-diesel.
Food: Fruit, before it is too ripe, is eaten by a lot of people. It is dried and stewed too.

Chandan

Characteristics:

Habit: The Chandan tree is small and evergreen. It takes helps from the roots of trees growing around it but does not cause damage to them. It uses the roots of other trees to get micro nutrients it needs, especially in its early phases of development.

Root: NA

Stem: The bark of the wood is smooth and dark, reddish-brown or black. As the tree grows it develops cracks and you can see bits of red through it.

Leaves: The leaf is simple, light green-coloured above and paler beneath. It is thin and long.

Flower: The tree starts to flower after about 7 years and its flowers are white when it is young. As the tree ages, the colour of the flowers turn towards red.

Fruit: The fruit is produced about 3 years after flowering.

Pollinators: NA
Seed Dispersal: Birds spread the seeds.
Where they grow: It grows all across the Deccan plateau, eastern Indonesia and northern Australia.

It grows well in well-drained soils, can withstand temperatures from 0° – 38° C and rainfall between 500mm to 3000mm. It likes the sun but does not need too much water.

Uses:
Medicinal: It has been used in local medicine for a range of remedies from the treatment of a common cold to heart ailments.

Agroforestry: NA
Religious: In India the oil and the wood has been used in religious practices for centuries. The oil is derived from the center or the heartwood which is yellowish brown in colour.

For other uses, please visit agrofarmingtips.com

Chota chirayata

Characteristics:

Habit: The size varies and can be from 2 cm to 65 cm long. It is erect at first then more or less lies along the ground.

Root: NA

Stem: The stem is simple/branched from the base. It is square with rounded corners and tapers towards the top.

Leaves: It has long narrow 3 nerved leaves.

Flower: It flowers throughout most of the year. The calyx of 5 sepals is united at the base. It has a corolla of 5 white petals, united below to form a tube but are free above. There are five stamens on the corolla but the stigma is not visible.

Fruit: NA
Seed: Small seeds.
Pollinators: NA
Seed Dispersal: NA
Where they grow: It grows in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
In India, it is found in grasslands, sandy slopes, side of roads and along rivers at elevations from sea level to 450 meters.

Uses:
Medicinal: The bitter-tasting plant contains bitter glycoside and ophelic acid. It is used as a laxative, for stomach aches and as a tonic.

It is dried, powdered and mixed with honey, then used as a blood purifier and in the treatment of dropsy, rheumatism, abdominal ulcers, hernia, swellings, itches and insect poisoning

The locals in Udaipur use it as a decoction to reduce temperature.
Agroforestry: NA
Food: NA

Dhaak

Characteristics:

Habit: Tree
Root: Spreading
Trunk: The bark is thick and full of fissures
Leaves: It has large, flat, thick leaves that are leathery hard on top and smooth and hairy on the underside.

Flower: The flowers are bright orange-red. Some varieties have yellow flowers. The flowers grow along a stem. They have five petals, two of which form a beak-like shape, two look like wings and one standard. The curved one has fine, silky hair which make the colour look silvery-peachy.

Fruit: The fruit is a flat pod which when young has a velvety cove.

Seed: Each pod contains one seed.

Pollinators: NA
Seed Dispersal: The pod bursts and drop the seeds on the ground. Some germinate there itself and others are carried by birds.
Where they grow: Palash is found in the drier parts of India.
While the tree is drought resistant it can grow in areas with a wide range of rainfall (450 – 4500mm). It tolerates frosts and can grow in a variety of soils, including saline and water-logged ones

Uses:
Medicinal: The bark is used by indigenous people for diarrhoea, dysentery, sore throats and snake bites
The leaves are supposed to have many medicinal uses, eating off them is said to transfer some of the properties to the person eating the food.

Agroforestry: NA
Religious: The bark of the yellow palash tree is torn off for worship by the locals in Rajasthan.
The flowers are used to make coloured water for Holi.
The leaves are used to make platters to serve food during religious festival.
http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Flame%20of%20the%20Forest.html

Jayanti Veda

Characteristics:

Habit: It is a herbacious plant and its stems and leaves are covered in hair.

Root: Coat button has a tap root and is known to be a host to many pests.

Stem: It has a creping stem that produce roots at the nodes. This allows it to grow fast.

Leaves: Leaves grow all along the stem on opposite sides of it. They are toothed and arrow shaped.

Flower: The flowers have a yellow centre and either white or yellow petals. Four of the petals seem to be a composite of three, it looks like they are three toothed. The fifth looks two toothed.

Fruit: It has a small, dry one-seeded fruit that does not open to release the seed. They are dark brown to black in colour, oblong, and 0.08 inches (2 mm) long, each with a head of fine hair that vary from 0.12 – 0.24 inches (3-6 mm).

Seed: A plant can produce anything between 500 and 2500 seeds
Pollinators: It is visited by many insects, birds and animals. The insects and birds help with the pollination
Seed Dispersal: It disperses its seeds using passing animals and does so by air as well.

Where they grow: Coat button can grow in many conditions but it grows best in coarse soil in the tropical regions. From this we know that it requires good drainage. It is a weed that grows from sea level to 2000m. It can be seen growing on the side of roads, in waste or fallow land and between crops.

Uses:
Medicinal: In India all parts of the plant are used in Ayurved. It is known as Bhringraj. Basically the plant is thought to have anti-microbial anti-septic and anti parasitic properties. In India it is used to enable wound healing. It is used as an insect repellant too. Because it is antiseptic and guards against parasites and microbes it is used for boils, blisters and cuts by local healers.
Agroforestry: NA

Kanju

Characteristics:

Habit: It is a large deciduous tree that grows to 18m.
Root: NA
Stem: NA
Leaves: Leaves are arranged alternately and are ovate in shape. The base of the leaf is rounded and heart shaped. It has smooth margins and a pointed tip.

Flower: Flowers are non-descript and grow out of the scar of fallen leaves.

Fruit: The membranous fruit is winged, which helps its spread.

Seed: The seed is flat and is eaten by monkeys and children. (In Udaipur, it’s called Bandar baati)
Pollinators: NA
Seed Dispersal: Air
Where they grow: It grows mainly on plains all the way from India to indo-China. It can grow on mountains up to the height of 1000m.

Uses:
Medicinal: The bark is used in Rheumatism and the stem bark is used to treat Ringworm.
Agroforestry: Used as cheap timber and because it is drought resistant and hardy, it is used to reforest areas that are denuded.
http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Indian%20Elm.html

Neem

Characteristics:

Habit: It’s a tree
Root: It has a tap root.
Stem: NA
Leaves: The compound leaf has 6-10 pairs that grow on either side of the stem. The leaves are toothed in appearance. The young leaves are reddish in colour, becoming light green then taking on permanent colour of dark green.

Flower: The flowers are white and appear cloud-like (small clusters). Both male and female flowers exist on the same tree.

Fruit: It fruits from June to August. The fruit is green and shaped like an olive.

Seed: It has one seed per fruit.

Pollinators: Insects like bees and butterflies
Seed Dispersal: Seeds fall on the ground and are dispersed by birds, bat and other mammals
Where they grow: Neem grows all over India.

Neem needs sunlight though it grows with partial to heavy shade in its early years. It needs a well drained soil with a rainfall of 450 – 15 mm annually. It does not enjoy being waterlogged.

Uses:
Medicinal:
Products made from neem trees have been used in India for over two millennia for their medicinal properties. Neem products are believed to be anthelmintic, antifungal, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, contraceptive and sedative by Sidha and Ayurvedic practitioners.
The bark, leaves, and seeds are used to make medicine. The root, flower, and fruit are also used but less frequently.

Neem leaf is used for leprosy, eye disorders, bloody nose, intestinal worms, stomach upset, loss of appetite, skin ulcers, diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease), fever, diabetes, gum disease (gingivitis), and liver problems.

The bark is used for malaria, stomach and intestinal ulcers, skin diseases, pain, and fever. The flower is used for reducing bile, controlling phlegm, and treating intestinal worms.
The fruit is used for hemorrhoids, intestinal worms, urinary tract disorders, bloody nose, phlegm, eye disorders, diabetes, wounds, and leprosy.

Neem twigs are used for cough, asthma, hemorrhoids, intestinal worms, low sperm levels, urinary disorders, and diabetes. People in the tropics sometimes chew neem twigs instead of using toothbrushes, but this can cause illness. Neem twigs are often contaminated with fungi within 2 weeks of harvest and should be avoided.

The seed and seed oil are used for leprosy and intestinal worms.
The stem, root bark, and fruit are used as a tonic and astringent.
Some people apply neem directly to the skin to treat head lice, skin diseases, wounds, and skin ulcers; as a mosquito repellent; and as a skin softener.

Neem is also used as an insecticide.

Agroforestry: NA
Food: Neem is used for food in Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. In Bengal, it is fried and served with Baingan. In Myanmar, the soft leaves are boiled with tamarind then eaten as a vegetable.

Agriculture: The dried leaves are used as a pesticide when storing grains

Pilwan

Characteristics:

Habit: It’s a woody climber
Root: Roots are dark brown
Stem: The stem can be about 15 cms in diameter and can grow 5 – 6 m long. The branchlets have velvet like hairs.

Leaves: Leaves are leathery, oblong and tapered towards the top. They have a very small stalk.

Flower: The male and the female flowers are different. They are small, solitary and axillary. They blossom in between October to January.

Fruit: Fruits are dark red, ribbed on its lateral faces, and has one seed. Fruit is a spherical drupe. They ripen from October to January.

Seed: The seed is horse-shoe shaped.

Pollinators: Insects
Seed Dispersal: Seeds are dispersed by gravity, and by birds and animals. Humans help to disperse the seeds as well.

Where they grow: Pilwan grows in semi-desert scrub vegetation regions or deciduous bushland, sometimes in shady localities along streams or climbing on plants like Acacia. It can grow on hills up to 1900 m altitude. It grows on sandy and gravelly soils, and sometimes colonizes dry fallow land.

Uses:
Medicinal: The juice of the leaf when diluted and mixed with sugar is used as a tonic.

The juice contains mucilage which when mixed with water forms a jelly which is applied externally on skin diseases. This is taken as a cooling medicine for gonorrhea.

Leaves are mostly used on wounds, nose bleeds, and as a fertility medicine for women, and to regulate the menstrual cycle. Decoction of leaves is used in constipation.

Roots and leaves are used as medicine for intermittent fevers, rheumatism.

The root has a great reputation against biliousness, menstrual problems and as a diuretic. Roots are used as a laxative, helminthic, malaria and cholagogue. A decoction of the roots is used together with Tinosporabakis (A. Rich.) Miers, to prepare a stimulating tonic. Roots and leaves are used in jaundice, yellow fever,
leprosy, syphilis, inflammation 6, in rheumatic pains 7 and of an aphrodisiac. Stem bark and root bark decoctions are used against intestinal parasites and gonorrhea.

An infusion of the plant is used to assist in removing thorns from the feet.

Other uses: Prevents soil erosion
Agroforestry: Juice of the ripe fruits yields a durable purple-blue dye which is used as ink and for dyeing of cloth by tribals.

Ronjh

Characteristics:

Habit: It is a medium-sized deciduous tree.
Root: It has a tap root system with nodules that has nitrogen fixing bacteria

Stem: The stems are aerial, erect, cylindrical, branched, solid, and greyish-white. The younger parts of the tree has a smooth bark which is blackish-brown in colour and rough bark with black blotches in older trees. They have 1-4 cm long spines arising from leaf axils, paired, straight, brown or dark red.

Leaves: The compound leaves are bi-pinnate, with 4-13 pairs of pinnae, each with 5-30 pairs of leaflets. Cup shaped glands are found at the junction of each pair of side stalks. The feathery green foliage offers a strong contrast to the light-coloured bark. Leaf fall is between December and April.

Flower: Ronjh tree flowers from August to September. The flower heads are creamy to pale yellow. The species in Udaipur are pink, ending in a creamy top. The flowers are complete, symmetrical and bi-sexual. The androecium consists of indefinite stamens that stick out.

Fruit: The seed pods can be from 10-17 cm long, 6-8 mm. They are flat, linear, oblong, slightly curved and yellowish-brown in colour.
Seed: 8-12 seeds are lodged in separate compartments of the pod. They are spherical, smooth, and pale-brown in colour.

Pollinators: Bees and butterflies
Root parasite/ bacteria/ microorganism: Nitrogen fixing bacteria
Rhizobium: Ronjh fixes atmospheric nitrogen through a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium bacteria which enables it to survive on infertile sites.”

Visiting birds: Sparrow, Bulbul, Dove
Seed Dispersal: Seed dispersal is by livestock
Where they grow: Native to open scrubland. This moderate to large sized thorny deciduous tree is characteristic of dry regions, hardy and drought-resistant, adapting to dry, rocky, sandy soils.

Uses:
Medicinal: The bark of all Acacia species contains greater or lesser quantities of tannins and astringent. Astringents are often used in many different ways; for example: they are used in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery, and can also be helpful in cases of internal bleeding. Applied externally, often as a wash, they are used to treat wounds and other skin problems, haemorrhoids, perspiring feet, some eye problems, as a mouth wash etc.

The bark and the gum from the tree are used in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis and asthma.
Other uses: The leaves yield a black dye, while the inner bark is used to make a red-brown dye and its fibre is used for making ropes and fishing nets.

Agroforestry: The wood is strong, hard and tough. It is used for agricultural implements, oil mills, carts and cart wheels and for turnery. It is also used as fuel. The fibers of the bark are used for coarse cordage. The gum is used in indigenous medicine and the pods are generally gathered for fodder.

The bark is often used to distil liquor, a reason for the tree’s other interesting name: Distiller’s Acacia or Sharab ki Keekar. The bark is said to be a clarifying and flavouring agent in the preparation of spirit from sugar and palm juice.

Vajaradanti

Characteristics:

Habit: Vajradanti is an ornamental and medicinal plant. It is an erect, bushy, prickly undershrub reaching up to 0.6-1.5 m high. It grows throughout the hotter parts of Asia. It is used as a hedge plant. During the dry season its stems, leaves, and flowers die off but the roots remain alive. The vegetation re-grows during the rainy season.

Root: Vajradanti has a central taproot, with lateral roots. Its surface is rough due to numerous dot-like pores and root scars of fallen roots. The external surface is greyish-brown, and the bark is thin with the smooth internal surface. Wood is cream coloured; odour and taste are not characteristic.

Stem: The stems are erect, between 1-8 mm thick. The branching is at nodes. The young stem is grey, slightly four angled, usually with 3-4 spines at the axil of a leaf. Mature stems are cylindrical with longitudinally arranged or scattered dot-like pores; externally greyish to light brown; a few mature stems can be slightly hollow.

Leaves: The leaves are variable in size and can be up to 10 cm long – 4 cm wide.

Flower: The flowers have 5 yellow petals which are arranged to form a tube at the end. The stamen and anthers push beyond the petals. The ovary is a fusion of two carpels and the flower has two stigmas.

Fruit: The fruit is a two-celled capsule, which explodes to release the seeds.

Seed: The seed capsule (2cm) contains two large seeds that are oval-shaped. The seeds are 8mm long-5mm wide, flat, with silky hairs.

Pollinators: Bees, butterflies and beetles
Seed Dispersal: Seed dispersal happens as the fruit explodes releasing the seeds.

Where they grow: It grows in well drained sandy soil and needs the full sun.

Uses:
Medicinal: The leaves are known to be antiseptic, diuretic and are a tonic. They are chewed in the treatment of fever, rheumatism, liver diseases, indigestion with constipation, and urinary infections
Plant extracts are known to suppress fungal growth.
A mouthwash made from the root tissue is used for cleaning teeth. It helps relieve tooth ache and helps with bleeding gums.
Leaves are used to promote healing of wounds, joint pains and toothaches.
Extracts of the plant are used in many herbal skin creams to protect against skin infections as it has antiseptic properties.
Plant extracts have also been shown to have hepatoprotective. Root extract has been shown to reduce fertility of male rats by 100%. It could be anti-spermatogenic.
The bitter juice of the plant is given to children as a treatment for catarrh
Agroforestry: NA
Food: NA

Wild eggplant

Characteristics:

Habit: Wild eggplant or Kateli is a perennial, thick, bright green and branched shrub.

Root: Roots are 10-45cm long, cylindrical but tapering and bitter to taste.

Stem: The stems have prominent nodes and inter-nodes, with thorns and hair.

Leaves: The leaves are long with thorn like structures on the mid rib.

Flower: The flowers are bisexual, hairy, regular, complete, purple and blue mixed and white in colour. It is about .5-1 cm long

Fruit: The berries are globular containing numerous seeds inside. It is smooth on the outside and bitter to taste.

Seed: The seeds are embedded in the fruit.

Pollinators: NA
Seed Dispersal: NA
Where they grow: It grows throughout India in dry places. It grows mostly in tropical and sub-tropical countries. The plant is native to Asia and is common in wasteland and roadside in India. It grows mostly as a weed. In India, in the dry parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.

Uses:
Medicinal: The important constituents present in the plant are Glycoalkoloids and sterols. The fruit is rich in solasonine, solamargine, and solasodine. It also contains solanine, Betasterol, Lanosterol, Carpesterol, and Carotene. The entire plant has medicinal values in various ways.

The root is one of the most important constituents of Dashamoola used in Ayurveda. The medicinal properties of the plant are described below:

It helps maintain body temperature.
It reduces body and joint pains when taken with pepper.
It makes breathing comfortable by helping in the secretion of mucous from the chest.

It increases the metabolism releasing trapped gasses.
It rids the intestines of worms.
Agroforestry: It helps prevent soil erosion.