Monday, June 9, 2014

Jacquinia Justifiably so Aurantiaca

i have been frequenting my special tree much too often than anybody could ever imagine mainly because of the transitory nature of it's blossoms and the heat of Delhi which has already sapped life out of my two precious plants much to my chagrin. Despite my best efforts to keep them alive and shifting them to a hastily made greenhouse with a garden green cover supported on strong poles. Sometimes i walk to the terrace even when dawn is yet to break and it is still a bit dark, just to check on this bush. Fear coupled with hope i climb the steps leading to the terrace. To see if the foliage is standing erect or has that ready- to- succumb- to- the- bad- weather droop. Thanks Heaven Almighty till today it was okay...the blossoms glowing with the light of life and the leaves shining with the spark of brilliance even when it was still dark and dawn had yet to break in. Because the air still felt hopelessly warm and dry i had to do it...and in that dark i tried to give some moisture to it...cursing the dryness which was making even the corners of my lips ask for Vaseline petroleum jelly. i gave my precious glowing- with- it's- jewels- in- the- dark bush a pre dawn shower.

Then took a stool and sat in front of her looking at her admiring her as in a manner one can say 'mooning' over her name Jaquinia as more light filtered through...dawn was slowly but steadily breaking in... and with each streak of that diffusing soft light her loveliness grew. She looked beautiful and solid in the dark but as she was catching the light she started looking fairy like and more ethereal. So i just looked and  looked at my Jaquinia aurantiaca.  Mooning over her and more on her name trying to say it again and again so that it becomes etched into my memory like the ubiquitous Rose or any other that i never have to struggle to address it as. How i arrived at the name of the 'Unknown'  is an aftermath of wrong name/ IDs given by those who are supposed to have all the names that they charge hefty sums for from their choicest section in their display. The Plant Nurseries' guys.
The one where i had purchased the plant, me thinking it to be something else had charged me handsomely and called it- Jacobinia. Later Mr Google gave the falsehood away and i went to another nursery with the image of the leaves/berry looking tiny buds, big buds, flowers and all and this gentleman told me another J name only thing this time it was Jacomentia. i came back happy only to be disappointed just a few easy hours later when i searched and Jacomentia was not it, rather Jacomentia turned out to be a totally different red Japanese hat creeper plant the flower of which was blue resembling our very own Aparajita flower. Since this my Plant Nursery hopping was proving to be an exercise in futility and a wild goose chase  i gave up on the nursery guys and decided to rely on own tech search. Good that i took the decision after say some twelve nursery visits or else till date i would be hanging on to the name Unknown.
My different ways of google search gave me no results for my tree but i must say my search was not futile. i was introduced to a whole wide range of orange and yellow flowers i had never seen before. Thus those nights when i was awake but having fun...enjoying every bit of it with some occasional cold milk and some diet snacks like Puffed roasted beaten rice called Chiwda/ poha if and when i got hungry.

Before i knew how the plant had got me so bewildered over it's identity as if it was some National Treasure hunt i was after that there were some nights i hadn't slept at all just typing all different ways for search, getting absorbed in newer varieties that i was seeing, jotting down names hoping to remember and thus collapsing into a fitful slumber where even in dreams i was perhaps seeing textures of flowers like wax, paper, straw, silk and velvet not to miss petals of all kinds with colored venation and some so intense and complicated   that branched and seemed like labyrinths in my dreams.
My husband tells me i was talking gibberish while i slept but yes i talked and he couldn't figure out what i was saying but i was loud enough to wake him up. He says he patted me and i am thankful for that but i was in deep slumber and realizing that he patted me with care and love sure does make me feel good.

It was during one of such nights that the Eureka moment happened. Strange but it happened when according to movies horrors are supposed to happen something around 3.15. i know the time because i heard the crows cawing and had looked up to see what time it was and  getting to feel a bit anxious actually if it was morning already and i had not reached my destination yet.  i was leafing through each of these pages given in i was going through that section which says 'Browse by Flower Color Red-Orange'
The flower could be easily skipped over there too had it not been for this lesson in concentration that this plant was teaching me.
Actually it could be easily overlooked because " Normally we do not so much look at things as overlook them."
The picture there is so plain that it looks insignificant enough for one to move across to another vivid and more attractive one unless you are very attentive.
Yeah, page six, fifteenth row, first column. Clicked on those tiny hardly eye catching  flowers and i got a enlarged view with details. Jacquinia macrocarpa, Family Primulaceaeae ( Primrose) synonyms Jacquinia aurantiaca. i devoured the rest of the details voraciously as is obvious given my condition.
There was no common name given and generally this site specifies a common name which led me to believe about the uniqueness of my plant and also perhaps of it's rarity as it being a collectors item perhaps.

Thus as it is with most plants/flowers this name is a tribute to the Dutch born Austrian Botanist Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin. He in 1760 had published plants that he had collected in the West Indies. So Carl Linnaeus the Father of binomial nomenclature in order to honor the botanist named this plant native to Central America and Carribbean as Jacquinia. There are about 86 known species enlisted in the internet of which my species mycrocarpa is one among them.

The nine spotted moth was having it's belly full of the nectar from the flower i guess which initially i thought was having ten petals. The beautiful fragrant flower of Jacquinia although only about 1cm across is more than intriguing. At first glance there appears to be 10 orange -red petals, but botanically only 5 are petals. The five smaller ones that look like petals are rather stamens called Staminodia. Staminodia is a sterile stamen that produces no pollen as in Canna. So actually the tiny flower has only five petals.

Around the short style in the center, five fertile stamens conceal a pool of nectar within the flower tube around the ovary. Almost unnoticeable are the thin roundish sepals which overlap and closely surround the ovary before it forms a marble sized fruit in some plants. In mine it forms an oval but less than marble size fruit. which nevertheless looks very attractive specially when water droplets are sticking to them...seeming like refusing to or defying the laws of gravity.

 The leaves look attractive too not only for their shape but also for their helical alternate arrangement. Being an evergreen shrub/ tree the leaves are not only tough and leathery but the tip is very fine too as fine as a needle tip.

As the dawn was breaking in and my Jacquinia had had her shower i just can't explain how beautiful and delectable she looked. i can just compare my raving of her to the rave that Raquel Welch had created in the 1960's when she had appeared first time in the first man made bikini. And i can wonder now what drives men crazy to see a woman after she has had her shower.  i can comprehend how poets compose about those droplets of water on the hair of the woman or perhaps the body of hers or how she smells fresh and fragrant after her bath because that's just how i was feeling only thing is i am not a poet nor a painter. i can only talk which i am doing and how far i can convey i don't know...but i was and am there each day even today when i gave her a shower and can't just have enough to see her sparkle with a million jazzy Jacquinia as i love her jovial, jocund company and i can't help but ogle at her jaunty, juiciest. juxtaposition feeling like a juvenile who is reeling under the intoxication of her first crush .

There's another very important aspect which thanks to Jacquina also happened. My restlessness in a way found rest. The ness became less and less perhaps when i was trying to look through that water droplet sticking through one of that cute oval bud. 
There was no planning but that which people might call concentration perhaps i got it finally. i guess i never felt that kind of concentration ever even when i was studying for my exams. i was hearing nothing seeing nothing but just the image of the flower inside the water droplet. Best part was that it was effortless and sheer bliss. Effortless and not forced and taking place at that instant i would say was the key. Genuine attention i guess has no motive. And like someone has rightly said, " Normally , we don't so much look at things as overlook them."

What is vital...
What connects-?
What makes us eager-?
Happy in my zone...that which they call concentration/ focused i was doing stuff. Clenched, curious...not waiting for society's kiss on my forehead or anything for that matter. i was just paying attention. And that i say is vital. That connects...
And just before i quit aurantiaca is a Latin adjective meaning Orange colored. Great... today is Tuesday and my color of the day...Orange Red...Aurantiacus...


  1. Hey the pictures are very good , why don't you post it in the original or xlarge size, will be much better i guess.

    1. @ aliasgarmukhtiar mukhtiar wooow...that was quick...thanks a ton. Yeah remember you telling me that before too. Maybe my next post i will try and do that. in writing and posting my pics i totally forgot about that enlarge suggestion. Pls don't mind that.
      Thanks for the appreciating...i really love it when u say that...and it encourages me to do better. :)

  2. She is so beautiful, Shivani. A friend from nature never disappoints. Loved reading your travails in finding her roots', I am glad you got the name finally. Lovely plant and so delicate, loved the closing lines of the post.

    1. @ Arti and that's great i enjoyed ur Melbourne Federation Square in the Rain too. That poem on Ma was just too good too...touching would be more appropriate.
      Thanks for not only appreciating my beautiful but also for 'paying attention' to the closing lines. I guess that does it isn't it when one catches the essence of it all.
      Hope to see more of you.

  3. lovely pics and what a beautiful plant that is .. and comparing to raquel welch.. wow that name took me years back.. I use to have that poster of her in that bikini in my room :)

    and I loved the line " Normally , we don't so much look at things as overlook them." .. SO true .. so very true .. I am glad you had that eye ...

    and here's to the Orange Red - Aurantiacus .. for sure .. coincidence I have a orange tee on today he he he he :)

  4. Hello,Great Blog You have,my best regards,EM

    1. @ EM welcome...seeing u here with kind words of praise makes me feel great too. Thanx a lot. It is so gud of you to provide the link...will visit you...ASAP. :)

  5. Replies
    1. @ Joshi daniel thank you so much Sir jee :). Keep visiting me and telling me...ur one or two words mean a lot to me. You just can't imagine how much...

  6. It must be a great experience to walk and admire them before the break of dawn. I hope they provide relief in scorching delhi heat. And thanks for sharing lovely information, coupled with your experience. Great shots too.