12 February 2010

The Screw Pine

For those of you interested in learning more about the infamous Screw Pine, which is allowed in the worship of Shiva only during the night of Mahashivaratri, below is information about this fragrant, beautiful flower:

Screw Pine

The Screw Pine is a shrub found wild in Southern India. It is a small, slender, branching tree with a flexuous trunk supported by brace roots. With rosettes of long-pointed, stiffly leathery, spiny, bluish-green, fragrant leaves. The shrub’s botanical name is Pandanus Odoratissimus of the Pandanaceae Family with common names: Fragrant Screw Pine, Umbrella Tree, Screw Tree, Thazhampoo (Tamil) and Ketaki (Sanskrit). The term ‘screw’ in this shrub’s name is motivated by the spiral, screw like arrangement of its leaves.The flowers of the male tree are 2-3 cm long and fragrant, surrounded by narrow, white bracts. They are fragrant, white in colour and attar is obtained from them - "Kewda attar" is one of the most popular perfumes extracted and has been used in India since ancient times.

All the parts of the plant have tremendous medicinal value. The roots are used as anti-septic. In ayurveda these are useful in vitiated conditions of "kapha and pitta", skin diseases and leprosy. The roots juices are used for curing wounds, ulcer, fever, diabetics, sterility and spontaneous abortions. The leaves are said to be valuable in the treatment of leprosy, scabies and diseases of heart and brain. The anthers of the male flowers are given in earache, headache and diseases of blood. The juice of the flowers is useful in rheumatic arthritis. Kewda oil is considered as stimulant and antispasmodic and is useful in cephalagia and coxalgia. The Screw Pine (like the mandrake in Europe), is viewed in parts of India as both a soporific and aphrodisiac.

For more extensive information of this fragrant flower go to this link here.

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