Continuing our coverage of State Trees and Flowers across the country, we bring you the flagship flora of Bihar.
In our next installment on the series of flora, come discover the flagship trees and flowers of the state of Bihar – the stately Peepal and the vibrant Marigold.
Bihar was a centre of learning and culture in ancient India. Vast stretches of fertile plains in the state sustain the third highest population for a state in the country. The Bihar plains are divided into two unequal halves by the river Ganga, which flows west to east through the state.
STATE TREE : Peepal or Sacred fig (Ficus religiosa)
Peepal tree is the state tree of Bihar. In Bodh Gaya, Prince Siddhartha achieved enlightenment and became Gautam Buddha under a Peepal tree. In the Bhagavad Geeta, Krishna says, “Of all the trees, I am the Peepal tree,” giving it a very special status among trees. A large, fast growing, deciduous tree, its heart-shaped leaves are broadly ovate and leathery, arranged alternately and spirally. The glossy leaves change colour from pink when young to a dark green as they age. Aerial roots, present in several Ficus plants, are absent in this tree, but the main root stock is very strong and can penetrate strong cemented walls, causing damage to buildings and other structures. Hence people avoid growing this tree inside houses. The bark of the tree is light grey with brownish specs. Flowers are axillary, sessile and unisexual. The tree belongs to the Moraceae family, commonly known as fig or mulberry family. The Ficus genus has over 850 woody trees, shrubs and vines. Many of them play a significant role in the ecosystem. Peepal trees are home to many birds and animals, and they also provide food to bats, fruit-eating birds, monkeys, Wild pigs and many other species.
STATE FLOWER: Marigold (Tagetes sps.)
Marigold flower is the state flower of Bihar. The commonest marigold species found in the state is Tagetes erecta. This particular marigold is a tall and erect plant, growing up to 3 feet in height. The flowers are globe-shaped and large. Generally yellow to orange in colour, they may measure up to 5 inches across. The species is native to central Mexico, but is now naturalised in many parts of the world, including India. Marigold is a flower of the common man. It is one of the most commonly grown flowers for decorations and extensively used for making garlands for religious and social functions and ceremonies. This plant belongs to the Asteraceae family, commonly called daisy or aster family. Marigold is also used for its several health benefits by alternative healers.
This is a joint Article by Dharmendra and Divya Khandal (Originally Published in SAEVUS Magazine February 2015)
Dharmendra is a Conservation Biologist with Tiger Watch. He is a researcher, monitoring anti-poaching initiatives around Ranthambhore. He is involved in reform programmes for the Mogya, a traditional hunting community. Divya Khandal is an amateur wildlife writer and photographer. She runs Dhonk, a social enterprise, which works with local communities promoting their crafts around Ranthambore National Park.