Ancient wisdom

Continuing our coverage of State Trees and Flowers across the country, we bring you the flagship flora of Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh is situated on the country’s southeastern coast. The two main river systems – Krishna and Godavari, as well as the semi-arid areas of the Deccan plateau, hills of Eastern Ghats and shores of Bay of Bengal support the varied eco types and rich biodiversity prevalent here. In Andhra, neem is the state tree while water lily is the state flower.

State Tree: Neem(Azadirachtaindica)

The Latinised name of neem, Azadirachta, is derived from the Perisan words ‘azad’ meaning free and ‘dirakht’ meaning tree. It is a member of the mahogany family Meliaceae. The neem belongs to the seasonally dry, tropical woodlands and is a fast growing tree, reaching up to 15-20 m (and at times even 40m), with a crown diameter of up to 20 m. neem is evergreen, but can shed most of its leaves during dry conditions. The compound (pinnate) leaves are alternate, and serrated leaflets can be 3-8 cm long. Flowers are cream-colored, perfumed and arranged in axillary clusters. neem has a strong root system with a deep tap root and extensive lateral rooting. Archivesshow that be it prehistoric or contemporary times, neem has been used by humankind to treat various ailments. The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the population living in developing countries rely exclusively on traditional medicine for their primary health care. neem is generally pest-free, as it contains azadirachtin, which has been promoted as a new insecticide and is considered more environmentally friendly than synthetic insecticides.

State Flower: White water lily (Nymphaeaalba)

The White water lily is a perennial, aquatic rhizomatous herb that often forms dense colonies. Lily belongs to the family nymphaeaceae. The family and genus name is associated with the word nymph – a name used for minor goddesses in Greek mythology who inhabit fountains and rivers, a perfect tie-up with the aquatic environment. The leaves ascend on flexible stalks from large thick rhizomes, are more round than heart-shaped, and can be up to a foot in diameter. The bowl-shaped flower floats and sticks above water – opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon; its roots lying in the mud at the bottom of the water body. The fragrant flowers come in a brilliant white color that has a tinge of pink to it along with yellow canters. The beautiful nature of the water lilies has led to their widespread use as ornamental plants. The White water lily is also the national flower of Bangladesh.


Authors: Dharmendra and Divya Khandal

This article first appeared in the March 2015 issue of the Saevus magazine.

About the Author /

Dharmendra Khandal is PhD from Rajasthan University in wetland ecology. He is a conservation biologist, working with Ranthambhore based NGO Tiger Watch since 2003.

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