Monday, February 21, 2022

Cuban Oregano (කප්පරවල්ලිය) and Vicks Plant (iriweriya ඉරිවේරිය)

Cuban Oregano (Coleus amboinicus synonym Plectranthus amboinicus) කප්පරවල්ලිය Kapparawalliya grows wild in Sri Lanka. This photo is from my sisters garden. Brought a few cuttings to plant. 

  May be an image of flower and outdoors

There is a very similar plant called Vicks Plant (iriweriya ඉරිවේරිය) (Plectranthus hadiensis/tomatose) which was originally native to South Africa.  The Cuban Oregano කප්පරවල්ලිය Kapparawalliya has a narrow leaf   The Vicks Plant iriweriya / ඉරිවේරිය wider oval leaf which is covered by woolly hair.

Below The Vicks Plant iriweriya / ඉරිවේරිය 
Vicks Plant - Plectranthus tomentosa care and culture

Wiki says "with a pungent oregano-like flavor and odor" and The aroma of the leaves can be described as a pungent combination of the aromas of oregano, thyme, and turpentine The taste of the leaves is described as being similar to the one of oregano, but with a sharp mint-like flavor..

I'll try it out on an unsuspecting tourist and get a "blind test" for comparison with Italian Oregano. Italian Oregano (Origanum vulgare) leaves look the same as Cuban Oregano.

Sinhalese and Tamil names are similar Kapparawalliya. Very common plant in childhood and trying to recall why. Also think there was another Sinhala name too, I think. Will need to go to my plant specialist class mate Sajith Dantanarayana.   Danta came thru and says
There are two types of the plant. One is called Kapparawalliya which has a narrow leaf.  The other is called iriweriya ඉරිවේරිය.  කොලය ටිකක් විතර පලල්. 
I have both plant at home and use them when preparing koththamalli for common cold or  caugh.
Or I put them both when making kola kanda  කොල කැඳ. කළවම් කොල කැඳ ඉතා ගුණයි.
ඉරිවේරිය,  කප්පරවල්ලිය, වැල්පෙනෙල, රත් කරල්හැබ, මොණර කුඩුම්බිය,  ගොටුකොළ,  බටු කොළ, හාත වාරිය, හීන් උඳුපියලිය  දමා සාදන කැඳ ඉතා ගුණයි රසයි. I have all these stuff at home and we drink regularly for breakfast.

For those who cant be bothered looking for plants and just want to order online.


Saturday, February 19, 2022

Savandara (සැවැන්දරා)

Savandara (සැවැන්දරා) Tamil: Vettver, Kuruver Vetiveria zizanioides, or Chrysopogon zizanioides
closely related to Sorghum but shares many morphological characteristics with other fragrant grasses, such as lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), citronella (Cymbopogon nardus, C. winterianus), and palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii).

Vetiveria zizanioides0.jpg
bring down body heat and are packed with natural antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body. As for the roots, the essential oil extracted from them via steam distillation is an important base ingredient in perfumery.

Long before Zara and Dior used vetiver in their luxury perfumes, Indians had been using this aromatic grass in their everyday life.

A part of the contraption was filled with water, drenching the vetiver mats. The hot air from outside would cool as it passed through the wet mats into the cage, and the fan would blow this cool, moist air into the room. Relief was brought by this sweet-smelling air.

This concept was used in Fiji a few decades ago when severe erosion endangered its sugarcane farms. After using vetiver, the land regained its health, erosion all but disappeared, and yields doubled. Today, the farmers of Fiji swear by this grass.

As the Vetiver Network International says, “If applied correctly, the Vetiver System could be an important tool to reduce erosion (by up to 90%), reduce and conserve rainfall-runoff (by as much as 70%), improve groundwater recharge, remove pollutants from water, reduce the risk of flooding, and improve economic benefits to communities.”

Savendara Sugandayen .. by MS Fernando

Excerpts from

Also read

Sinhala Wiki

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

First days in Wilpattu House:2012

 The first time I ever was direct North of Puttalam was in 2010.  My dear classmate Shantha Weerakoon suggested we drive thru the gravel road thru Wilpattu had just opened.   Anyway he could not come because his dogs were having problems.

So I chatted with my mother till about 12pm.  Next day was Sinhala Tamil New Year. so stocked up on booze on the way.  Had a Nissan Wingroad (rental) and very low.  The 30Km Puttalam to EVK took me 1.5 hrs.  The road was not gravel, not tarred either.  By the time I got to  EVK  the road had closed at 3pm.   So slept in the car.  Next day had a early morning bath in Nelum Wewa  and then crossed Wilpattu.  Took 2+ hours to cross the 40km across the Park.

This is the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka, no rain from around April to late October.  However, thanks to the ancient Sinhalese Kings, this part of Sri Lanka has been Environmentally Engineered since around 300BC.  eg Abhayawewa built by King Pandukabhaya.  Walk at most a kilometer and there is a reservoir.

Always had a yen for the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka.  So after seeing Nelum Wewa thought I would buy some land around. When I sounded the idea to others, most said it was stupid.  Mostly because it was civil war borderlands. One of my perfect gentleman bosses Nihal de Silva, author and photographer got blown  by a LTTE landmine inside the National Parjk.

Around July 2011 had decided to buy land in EVK.   My good old pal Shantha Weerakoon was intrigued always wants to see new out of the way places.  Other classmates were going on a Safari next day. There was no entrance to the park from EVK till bout 2015.

Anyway Weera and I came to EVK,  Weera  to check out the area.  Me to check out three properties  the local contact had arranged.  Local contact played me out big time, but thats part of the learning curve as an outsider even in your on country.

So, even tho many said I was paying too much I paid much extra for going rate.  Waterfront etc.

Anyway by Sept 2011 had bought the property. 

So around end Sept came with another classmate, Dushyntha Peter  and we brought  my tent along.
There was no electricity, or running water.  We walked down to the river did some of our three S's (shit.shower and shave).  I preferred doing my swim pre dawn or post dusk, so oxford style.

Mohammed and Murugan. The road thru Wilpattu closes at 3:00 pm. This is the water tower for Eluvankulam, I slept here on the camp bed (booru anda) seen just behind Murugan.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

කරවලකැබිල්ල. Bignay (Philippines) wild cherry and currant tree (Antidesma bunius)

Planted a few days ago. Sinhala කරවලකැබිල්ල  Karawalakebilla  (Tamil: நாளைதளி Nolaidali ) Bignay (Philippines), Mao Luang,  wild cherry and currant tree (Antidesma bunius). Attracts birds and can become a 15m (45 foot) tree.

The skin of the fruit has red juice, while the white pulp has colorless juice. The fruit contains a light-colored seed. The fruit has a sour taste similar to that of the cranberry when immature, and a tart but sweet taste when ripe. This tree is cultivated across its native range and the fruits are most often used for making wine and tea and is also used to make jams and jellies. 
Rich in antioxidants and anticancer properties. The leaves can be eaten and can be included in a salad mix.


Antidesma bunius

Video in Sinhala

Monday, May 24, 2021

Covid: Droplets vs Aerosols and UV sterilization

Recent studies have shown that COVID-19 is not transmitted  just by droplets but also by aerosols. (eg Twang et al, 2021  and Samet et 2021.  Aerosols can disperse as far as 10m (33 feet).  Thats about the size of a small waiting room or small office. (WHO dragged its foot about accepting aerosol transmission of COVID-19 and cost many deaths.)

If transmission is only by droplets, then masks, hand washing and sanitizer can reduce transmission.  However, if it is aerosol airborne then other precautions are needed.  Sterile clean rooms are probably crucial to contain the highly infectious Indian variant B.1.617.2. 

For aerosol sterilization, proper ventilation and air that is not re circulated would reduce transmission. For space that is not properly ventilated, such as air conditioned rooms an option is sterilization by UV radiation.  Sterilization by UV is now not very expensive, and commonly available home and house supply stores.

Waiting Room/Small Office 
Air Purifiers with UV  that can purify a 1,000 sq ft in one hour (or 600 sq ft in 30 minutes) is about USD 100.  Not giving a link to a particular item or store, as would appear endorsement.  A search for "air purifiers with UV" will give many results.

Isolation Beds
Isolation rooms maybe to expensive in numbers.  A cheap alternative might isolation beds with in-going and outgoing air being UV sterilized.   Basically a plastic canopy covering for the bed and adaptive plumbing to two UV air purifiers  One for air into bed enclosure.  The other for air to be sucked out of bed enclosure.

Important Note
Combining UVC irradiation to recirculating air filtration might enhance elimination of airborne microorganisms.
UVC irradiation (100–280 nm) is highly mutagenic for microorganisms and its efficacy is dependent oh the dose (J/m2) which is composed of

  • a) UVC intensity (W/m2) and
  • b) exposure time (s),
  • c) the wavelength (254 nm),
  • d) relative humidity (RH) and
  • e) the susceptibility of microorganisms to UVC irradiation

Through the formation of thymidine dimers, UVC functions as a mutagen and leads to damage of the microbial DNA. Several studies demonstrated the virucidal and bactericidal effectiveness of UVC irradiation  (see pig facility citation for more detail)

Some References of UV Sterilization of Air

Wai et al (2020) BMC Infectious Diseases volume 20; 127

In the disinfection tests against seasonal influenza viruses H1N1 and H3N2, we also demonstrated that viral load could be effectively reduced by 4-log10 folds after 20 min VUV illumination and this also satisfied the criterion of valid germicidal result. Additionally, more than 3-log10 reduction in viral load can be attained with < 10 min of treatment.

Eisenhofel et al (2019) PLOS ONE, November 2019  (This was on pig facility)

Tests at laboratory scale were performed using aerosols of Staphylococcus (S.) aureus, Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, porcine parvovirus (PPV) and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. We varied relative humidity (RH) to evaluate its effect on UVC irradiation efficiency. In addition, viability of pathogens inside the filter material was determined over up to six months. UVC-combined air filtration resulted in a more than 99% reduction of viral and bacterial particles. RH had no influence on UVC efficiency. Viability in the filter matter varied depending on the pathogen used and RH with S. aureus and PPV being most resistant.

Tim Sandle (2020) American Pharmaceutical Review June 2020 (does not seem peer reviewed)

Effectivity of HEPA Filters to Remove Viruses from Air Entering Cleanrooms

sereno barr-kumarakulasinghe, May 24th, 2021

Also published on

pdf version available


The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill

All pandemic long, scientists brawled over how the virus spreads. Droplets! No, aerosols!heart of the fight was a teensy error with huge consequences.

They ticked through a growing list of superspreading events in restaurants, call centers, cruise ships, and a choir rehearsal, instances where people got sick even when they were across the room from a contagious person. The incidents contradicted the WHO’s main safety guidelines of keeping 3 to 6 feet of distance between people and frequent handwashing. If SARS-CoV-2 traveled only in large droplets that immediately fell to the ground, as the WHO was saying,

Marr was no stranger to being ignored by members of the medical establishment. Often seen as an epistemic trespasser, she was used to persevering through skepticism and outright rejection.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Clitoria, Butterfly Flea, (Sinhala: Katarolu, කටරොළු)

Clitoria ternatea, Butterfly Flea, (Sinhala: Katarolu, කටරොළු) two types blue or white flowers.  The blue flower variety is very common and grows wild and considered a weed in rural areas. 


  • Southeast Asia, the flower is used as a natural food colouring
  • Thai cuisine the flowers are dipped in batter and fried.

Tea from the flower

  • Flower tea and dried lemongrass
  • with lemon juice turns it purple
  • With honey and lemon gives the tea a pink-purple color

With Gin

  •  Blue in the bottle (Needs to be stored in a dark place to keep color)
  •  Pink when mixed with a carbonated mixer


Also see

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."