The Peacock Flowers of Lavasa

But beauty seen is never lost, 
God’s colors all are fast;
The glory of this sunset heaven
Into my soul has passed….. 

-John Greenleaf Whittier, Sunset on the Bearcamp, 1876

It had been quite a while since I visited Lavasa. I was looking forward to smell the red earth again. This red earth has a fragrance different from any other part of India. I was missing my home in the mountains. As soon as I crossed the Lavasa Dwaar, I noticed the colors. There were flowers starting to bloom in the Mose valley. We were greeted with red gladioli in the newly laid out picturesque flower-beds!

Come experience the vibrant waves of color that have started covering the hillsides at Lavasa. This wonderful display of horticultural beauty surprised me and promises to welcome us into a sea of floral color and aromatic delights. The gardeners have been busy in the monsoons and their results are just showing. I must have gone up and down the slopes from Ekaant to Portofino more than a 50 times but this time was surprised with the vibrant peacock flowers of Lavasa – I stopped and walked in the sloping hill-side gardens for hours. It was a stunning day, beautiful sunshine, so the flowers were open and could be enjoyed. I had noticed a few flower-beds coming up on the hill slopes especially at vantage viewing areas after the Lavasa-Dwaar but these Peacock Flowers of Lavasa are something different. They have changed the blue and green Lavasa landscape to red and yellow sprinkled all over the green countryscape. My wife was the flower-expert this time and instantly diagnosed the flower-fields to be Caesalpinia Pulcherrima (I was impressed with a gynecologist identifying the flower type spot-on!).

In the genus Caesalpinia the most popularly planted species is Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Common names for this species include Poinciana, Peacock Flower, Red Bird of Paradise, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Poinciana, Pride of Barbados, and flamboyan-de-jardin. It is a shrub growing to 3 m tall, native to tropical America. The leaves are bipinnate, 20-40 cm long, bearing 3-10 pairs of pinnae, each with 6-10 pairs of leaflets 15-25 mm long and 10-15 mm broad. The flowers are borne in racemes up to 20 cm long, each flower with five yellow, orange or red petals. The fruit is a pod 6-12 cm long. It is a striking ornamental plant, widely grown in tropical gardens. It is also the national flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, and is depicted on the Queen’s personal Barbadian flag. In India it is found in the tropical rain forests. With a beautiful inflorescence in yellow, red and orange, it is called “Ratnagundhi” colloquially.

Medicine men in the Amazon Rainforest have long known some of the medicinal uses for Caesalpinia pulcherrima, which is known as ayoowiri. The juice from the leaves is said to cure fever, the juice from the flower cures sores, and the seeds cure bad cough, breathing difficulty, and chest pain. Four grams from the root is also said to induce abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Word lover that I am, I searched for the translation of Caesalpinia Pulcherrima, figuring it meant something like “the most beautiful king of plants” (since I know from Akeela and the Bee that pulcher is Latin for beauty, and I figured Caes… meant “king” like Caesar). What I found out is that Caesalpinia was named after Andrea Cesalpino (1519–1603), an Italian botanist (citation). And Pulcherrima, as I guessed, means “most beautiful.”

And the playground of Poseidon still looks best at Dusk(see pictures). Dusk refers to the period of time following sunset. Although commonly confused with twilight, dusk is the time frame that occurs either before or after a twilight – when the sky is still generally bright and blue, but there is no sun to accompany it.

Twilight, again. Another ending. No matter how perfect the day is, it always has to end.
Stephenie Meyer, Twilight, 2005

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