Smile of Earth- 20

Flowers of Beans

Beans are among the most versatile and commonly eaten vegetables throughout the world. Many varieties are grown by farmers and people in their home gardens. Edible beans are nutrient-rich vegetables and they contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, in addition to protein, fibre, a moderate amount of calories and other nutrients.

Cowpea-Vigna unguiculata

I have four varieties growing in my garden, as you can see in these pictures. Notice that the structure of the flowers is different from other flowers.
A bit of Botany here 🙂
The heart-shaped big petal is called the ‘standard petal’ and attracts pollinators such as bees. Next two petals are named ‘wing petals’ and the last pair that grows fused is called ‘keel petal’. All essential parts are enclosed within the keel petals.

Bean blossoms with the above configuration are said to be ‘papilionaceous’, meaning butterfly-like.

Flat beans- Phaseolus coccineus
Common bean- Phaseolus vulgaris
Indian broad beans- Lablab purpureus

Smile of Earth- 19

Exotic Flowers!

Good to be here after a long gap…. I might have missed many of your posts.
Here I am bringing a little cheer for all 🙂 Each one of these flowers has an exquisite structure and are gorgeous. They are quite big and showy.

Glory Lily

Glory lily (Gloriosa superba) with it’s flaming petals can never be missed, though it is generally not grown as a garden plant. The plant is poisonous and can cause fatalities, if consumed.
Night-blooming cereus is a member of the cactus family. As the name suggests, the flowers bloom at night and are gone by daybreak! The plant has flat ribbon-like stem and well adapted for tropical climate.
Scarlet passionflower (Passiflora coccinea) is an ornamental, woody climber and does not produce fruits like the commercially cultivated variety. At least, I haven’t seen fruits on this plant, growing in my garden.
Water lily prefers a freshwater habitat. There are more than fifty species of water lilies. According to Indian mythology, lotus is the better half of sun while water lily is of moon. Water lilies symbolize innocence, purity, pleasure, celebration, rebirth, wellness and peace.

Night-blooming Cereus
Scarlet Passionflower
Water lily

Smile of Earth- 18

Zinnia flowers

Zinnia is a herbaceous plant that belongs to the aster family (Asteraceae). There are 20 species and more than 100 cultivated varieties of Zinnia.
Zinnias are annual plants that can bring an explosion of colours in a garden. They come in eye-catching hues. Flowers are solitary. They can be singles with petals arranged in a single row or semi-doubles or doubles with layers of petals.
These plants require only basic requirements like well-drained soil and sunlight to grow.
Zinnia is named after Johann Gottfried Zinn, famous German botanist who described this plant. Zinnia symbolizes friendship in the language of flowers.
Did you know? Zinnia is one of the flowers grown in space. In January 2016, NASA released images of a Zinnia flower blooming aboard the International Space Station.

Smile of Earth- 17

Flowers of Solanaceae

Eggplant flower

Solanaceae, also known as the potato family or nightshade family, is one of the most utilized and important plant families. The members of the family are found throughout the world but are abundant in the tropical regions.
It includes some of the most important food plants. Solanaceae has many ornamental plants also. Here, I am presenting flowers of food crops or vegetables of the family.
The common vegetables of the family are potato (Solanum tuberosum), eggplant or brinjal (Solanum melongena), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and chili peppers (Capsicum species).

Potatoes are carbohydrate-rich food and are important in the diet of many people around the world. Tomato is prized for its red, fleshy, vitamin-rich fruits. Less commonly eaten is the eggplant and it’s large, purplish, edible fruits are used in Indian dishes. The numerous varieties of chili are used to give a hot, spicy flavor to many foods.
All photographs are from my garden.

Potato flower
Green chili flower
Tomato flowers

Smile of Earth- 16

Ornamental Purslane

Purslane is a summer plant with pretty, delicate flowers that show off with many colours. The plant is a succulent herb and mostly appears clustered. The stem is prostrate and trailing with flat, fleshy, spatulate leaves.
Ornamental purslane produces flowers all summer and in warmer climates even in winter.
Purslane blooms open around 10:00 in the morning and close for good at various times in the day, depending on the temperature conditions.
Portulaca umbraticola and Portulaca oleracea are two of the ornamental purslanes you see hanging in baskets and in flower beds, giving colour and bringing in cheer.
Purslane was grown in India originally and provided nutrition and reported health benefits. The common purslane is a ‘weed’ (purslane that is not ornamental) and is a leafy vegetable.
Some other common names of purslane include garden purslane, moss rose, little hogweed, and wild portulaca.

Smile of Earth- 15

Bougainvillea

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Bougainvillea is an ornamental shrub that climbs up a support, if left unpruned. They produce showy bunches of ‘flowers’ that come in a variety of colours.
Flowering Bougainvillea plants are really a visual treat and adds colour to the place.

The actual flower of the plant is small and generally white. Flowers are seen in cluster of three and is surrounded by three or six bracts (modified leaves) with bright colours, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow.

Currently, there are over 300 varieties of bougainvillea around the world. Many are hybrids  developed by genetic as well as  vegetative methods like budding.

Bougainvillea is the official flower of some states in USA like, California and Guam. It is also the national flower in Grenada. Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) is also known as Paper flower.

Bougainvillea flowers are sources of natural dyes.

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Smile of Earth- 14

Some Exotic Flowers

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Aloe flowers

Anyone would love these exotic flowers!!

Aloe flowers vary in size, shape and color. They are held in a racemose inflorescence. The common species is Aloe vera and its flowers show  variations depending on the climatic conditions where it grows.

The Portuguese squill (Scilla peruviana) is a perennial that produces large striking blue conical-shaped inflorescence. The star-shaped flowers last for several weeks. These plants propagate from bulbs.

Ornamental garlic plants can be grown to get pretty blooms in globose inflorescence. Garlic flowers have a green stem that bear lime green, pink, or white spherical capsule of miniature flowers. No marks for guessing their smell!! 🙂

And now, the Crucifix orchids (Epidendrum radicans). These have thick leaves and long, thin stems with long lasting clusters of flowers. The common name refers to the modified petal that resembles a small cross.

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Portuguese squill

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Garlic flowers

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Crucifix orchid

Smile of Earth- 13

Red flowers

Bright and vivid, arrest attention! That is what these red flowers do!

‘Red Mountain Flame’
Red Mountain Flame

Red Mountain Flame (Delosperma sp.) is a highly improved variety of Ice plant that can transform a strip of land as a ground cover. The daisy-like, intense red flowers have yellow stamen and are borne by succulent evergreen branches.

True to their name, Bottlebrush plants (Callistemon sp.) have spikes of flowers that bloom at the ends of the stems, bearing a strong resemblance to a bottle brush. These shrubs bloom with flowers in shades of red.

The Canna lily (Canna indica) is a perennial with large foliage and showy flowers. They are easy to grow, and their flowers offer long-lasting colour in the garden. The plants are propagated from rhizomes.

And the ubiquitous Lantana plants (Lantana camara) have rounded clusters of small, brightly-colored flowers. There are a variety of colours other than the red. Lantana is considered as an invasive weed.

Bottlebrush
Bottlebrush

Cana lily
Canna lily

Lantana
Lantana

 

 

 

 

Smile of Earth- 12

Lilies

L1
Tulip

The Lily family, Liliaceae, originally consisted of about 4000 plus known species. Latest classification has organized these into more compact, related families.

Lilies are showy monocot flowers. The plants are herbaceous perennials, propagating from underground bulbs. The flowers have six, colored tepals (not petals) in two whorls of three each. Though lilies produce seeds, they are not viable.

Lilies are widely distributed, mostly in warm temperate and tropical regions. They are valuable ornamental plants and are traded as cut flowers.
The oil extracted from lilies has healing and softening properties for sensitive skin. Especially, when the lily fragrance oil is mixed with Calendula oil, it works wonderfully.

Lily flowers stand for love, purity, femininity, unity and transience.
We will look at a few flowers that bear the name Lily; may not be ‘True Lilies’ technically, according to new classification.

L2
Daylily

L3
Amaryllis lily

L4
Rain lily

 

Smile of Earth- 11

Ixora flowers

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Dwarf variety

Ixora plant is related to coffee plant and belongs to the Family Rubiaceae. Ixora is native to Asia, now widely seen in tropical gardens.

There are about 400 species spread across Africa, India to Southern Asia. They differ in leaf size, plant height, flower size and flower colour. This plant which blooms throughout the year is easy to grow.

Plants are normally sturdy shrubs of 7-8 ft height and the dwarfs are of 1-2 ft. Dwarfs have small leaves and are bushy. Ixora flowers last well when put into a vase with water, making an attractive home arrangement.

Ixora flowers, leaves and roots are used to treat various ailments in the Indian traditional system of medicine, the Ayurveda, especially that of the dwarf varieties.

Ixora is the national flower of Suriname.

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White ixora

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Yellow- Buds

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Regular variety