Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Olu (ඕලු), Nelum (නෙලුම්), and Manel (මානෙල්)

There is some confusion regarding Olu (ඕලු), Nelum (නෙලුම්), and Manel (මානෙල්) flowers and its English names.  To be honest I am not  sure I have got it 100% right, so open to correction.

The confusion is because Sinhala and English do not match one to one. 
A very good example is Honey and Pani (පැණි) is considered equivalent.
Pani පැණි is Syrup in Sinhala.  Honey is  Mi Pani මි පැණි (i.e. Bee Syrup),  Coconut Syrup is Pol Pani පොල් පැණි (i.e. coconut syrup) and medicine syrups beheth pani බෙහෙත් පැණි i.e. medicine syrup

Nil Manel (නිල් මානෙල්) (Nymphaea nouchali)

It is a Lily and the National Flower of Sri Lanka.   Though a Lily it is also called blue lotus*, star lotus
The Lilly Of Life.JPG
In Sri Lanka, this plant usually grows in buffalo ponds and natural wetlands. Its beautiful aquatic flower has been mentioned in Sanskrit, Pali, and Sinhala literary works since ancient times under the names kuvalaya, indhīwara, niluppala, nilothpala, and nilupul as a symbol of virtue, discipline, and purity. Buddhist lore in Sri Lanka claims that this flower was one of the 108 auspicious signs found on Prince Siddhartha's footprint. It is said that when Buddha died, lotus flowers blossomed everywhere he had walked in his lifetime.

Claire Waight Keller included the plant to represent Sri Lanka in Meghan Markle's wedding veil, which included the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country

For you eternal children, a reminder, Tintin and the Blue Lotus.

Nelum (නෙලුම්) (Nelumbo nucifera)

Known as just Lotus or Indian lotus or sacred lotus.  Just to confuse the naming, it is also called water Lily and confused with water lilies of genus Nymphae.
Sacred lotus Nelumbo nucifera.jpg
"Nelumbo" is derived from the Sinhalese word Nelum.

The roots of lotus are planted in the soil of the pond or river bottom, while the leaves float on the water's surface or are held well above it. The flowers are usually found on thick stems rising several centimeters above the leaves.

An individual lotus can live for over a thousand years and has the rare ability to revive into activity after stasis. In 1994, a seed from a sacred lotus, dated at roughly 1,300 years old ± 270 years, was successfully germinated.

In Sri Lanka (and other countries) the yams are eaten as curries.




Olu (ඕලු) Nymphaea Lotus

This is a Lily, i.e in the family Nymphae.  Obviously to confuse everyone, it is called White Lotus or Egyptian Lotus.


Lily pads which float on the water, and blossoms which rise above the water. 

In Sri Lanka (and other countries) the yams are eaten as curries. The young fruits are sometimes consumed as a salad (not SL as far as I know). The fresh seeds, white color taste like almonds.  The dried seeds are cooked like a rice.  To cook the seeds, one must either soak it for a day before boiling or cook it in a pressure cooker. Olu haal kandha (Olu rice porridge) is a healthy and wholesome preparation from ground olu seeds and is generally consumed for breakfast.

 


A short and sweet description of differences

The leaves of lotus are emergent, meaning that they rise above the water level whereas the leaves of water-lily are found floating on the water surface. Same is true for their respective flowers; lotus flowers are emergent and water-lily flowers are floating."
https://laidbackgardener.blog/tag/difference-between-a-lotus-and-a-water-lily/water-lily/

Flame lily, Sinhala Niyangala, (නියඟලා)


Flame Lily.jpg

 

Flame lily, Sinhala Niyangala, (නියඟලා) Extremely poisonous and beautiful.
Had a term like, Wifes Friend in Sinhala. Cook the yam with potatoes and give the husband to get rid of him. Luckily hard to find, so would have be really long premeditated murder.

From Wiki

It is also the national flower of Tamil Eelam, and as such was displayed during Maaveerar Day and the state flower of Indian state of Tamil Nadu (Tamil: senganthal (செங்காந்தள்) or kanvali kizhangu (கண்வலிக்கிழங்கு)).

This plant is poisonous, toxic enough to cause human and animal fatalities if ingested. It has been used to commit murder, to achieve suicide, and to kill animals. Every part of the plant is poisonous, especially the tuberous rhizomes (yams).

Research* shows that poisoning mimics infection, so poisoning is not suspected.
Research paper cause was found because the patient finally said he had consumed with the intention of committing suicide.

It also takes 10-12 hours for effects to be seem. The longer a poison takes, the better for the poisoner. i.e. A wider range of potential poisoner suspects.



References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4587877/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloriosa_superba

*
Thanks Suchetha Wijeynayake for the tip on the paper.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Crusades, Wootz/Damascus Steel, Pandanus and Dumbara Mats,

A post connecting  three kinds of Pandanus, a beautiful blue flower,  color of Buddhist priest Robes, Dumbara Mats, Wootz/Damascus Steel and Tenuous thoughts to the Crusades

Sri Lanka has three kinds of Pandanus commonly known and used and a beautiful third plant, with beautiful blue flowers. 
  • Rampe| රම්පෙ| Pandanus amaryllifolius
    Kora-Kaha |කොරකහ| Memecylon umbellatum
  • Wetakeyiya | වැටකෙයියා| Pandanus kaida,
  • Dunukeiya |දුනුකෙයියා|  Pandanus thwaitesii
  • Kora-Kaha |කොරකහ| Memecylon umbellatum
Rampe| රම්පෙ| Pandanus amaryllifolius
The most common and in home gardens.  Used extensively in cooking in Sri Lanka and SE Asia.  Most of the Sri Lankan dishes use these leaves for aroma along with curry leaves. In India it is called annapurna leaves; in Bangladesh, it is called pulao pata (পোলাও পাতা )
Wetakeyiya | වැටකෙයියා| Pandanus kaida
Grows by seaside. Long thin leaves compared to Dunukeiya (දුනුකෙයියා|).  Used for mats mainly by sea side communities.  During the 2004 Tsunami areas that had Wetakeyiya along the shore front were protected from the full impact.  Post Tsunami many programes to plant and re plant Wetakeyiya along Sri Lankas sea side.  (an Evaluation in 2010)
Dunukeiya |දුනුකෙයියා|  Pandanus thwaitesii
Grows by rivers, paddy fields, muddy areas. Leaves broad, used for mats called Dumbara mats.  Wgasahantharindu has a nice description of the process to make the mats.
Paduru: Sri Lanka's Magic Carpet

Kora-Kaha |කොර-කාහ| Memecylon umbellatum   (Hindi : अंजन (Anjan)  Tamil காயா (Kaya))
A tree with beautiful blue flowers. The Sinhalese name for the plant does not reflect the beautiful blue flower.  More its practical side, the use of as a yellow dye.  i.e. kaha කාහ means yellow

a) The leaves contain a yellow dye, a glucoside, which is used for dyeing the robes of Buddhist monks.
b) Also used for yellow colouring of reed (Dumbara)  Mats 
c)  Historically, this plant was burnt as fuel in the production of Wootz steel also see Eleventh-Century Pittsburgh in Sri Lanka

Note: Wiki says this tree is called Ironwood.  It is NOT the Mesua ferrea, the Ceylon ironwood national tree of Sri Lanka

So to put it all together

  • A common home garden plant used for cooking (Rampe| රම්පෙ|Pandanus amaryllifolius)
  • Related to a plant that was/is Tsunami protection (Wetakeyiya | වැටකෙයියා|Pandanus kaida)
  • Related to both above used for Mats (Dunukeiya |දුනුකෙයියා|  Pandanus thwaitesii)

  • The  First Tenuous* to an unrelated plant, that connects to the above. Kora-Kaha |කොරකහ| Memecylon umbellatum
  • Yellow colouring from leaves used for mats made from  Dunukeiya| 
  • Buddhist priests robes are dyed by flower of Kora-Kaha
  •  Mats used by Buddhist priests and lay people  are dyed from the flower of Kora-Kaha
  • The Second Tenuous*,  Use of Kora-Kaha for Wootz Steel/Damascus Steel. 
    • Was there not enough Kora-Kaha  trees to make Steel to fight the 12th Century South Invaders.
    • Or were the Sinhalese Kings busy exporting the Wootz steel/Damascus Steel to the Mid East and not enough steel to fight invaders (I dont think so, just a thought process)   The Mid East Saladin was busy fighting the Crusaders eg Richard the Lion Heart.

      For the Sri Lankan readers, the 12th century was the decline of the Sinhalese polity in North  and establishment of the Kalinga/Tamil polity in the North

*Tenuous as  in without researched back evidence. 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Genghis Khan cooled the planet

https://imgs.mongabay.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/20/2011/01/06121126/ghengis-khan.jpgGenghis Khan and his empire, which lasted nearly two centuries, actually cooled the Earth.

told in one word: reforestation. When the Mongol hordes invaded Asia, the Middle East, and Europe they left behind a massive body count, depopulating many regions. With less people, large swathes of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

the conquest of the Americas (killing of 95% of First Nations) there was enough time for the forests to re-grow and absorb significant amounts of carbon.
Recovery of forests following the collapse of human populations in the Americas after the arrival of Europeans may have driven the period of global cooling from 1500-1750 known as the Little Ice Age,

humans started to influence the environment thousands of years ago by changing the vegetation cover of the Earth‘s landscapes when we cleared forests for agriculture.



From
https://news.mongabay.com/2011/01/how-genghis-khan-cooled-the-planet/

Also see
http://wilpattuhouse.blogspot.com/2015/10/american-prairie-and-amazon-forest-man.html