Kannanthali – (in Malayalam)Exacum bicolour
Akshipushpi – (in Sanskrit)
Indian subcontinent is rich with 17000 types of flowering herbs- we can see this plant both in dry grass lands as hillocks of 50-200 elevation and grass lands attached to shola forests.
In Kerala dry grass lands are distributed in Palakkad, Calicut, Malappuram, Kannur and Kasarkode district. The unique feature of the plant is even if there is a vast stretch of grass land; its sprouting is limited to certain small stretch of pockets only. In dry grass lands it grows to the height of 25-80 cms.
Flowering season is usually September to November in grass lands. For petals are white with dark purple or violet tip are the most enchanting part of the cutie. The intensity of the petal tip colour varies from dark purple to bluish violet and violet. The bright yellow stamens add charm to the flower. Flower color variations like fully white petals and purple petals are observed rarely.
Kannanthali flower opens at six to eight AM and closes after sunset. A single flower remains in the plant for eight to ten days.
After two or three days of opening and closing it remains open throughout day and night. The violet or purple color gradually spreads downwards from the tip of the flower after five-six days of flower opening. The flowers are seen in dichasial cyme inflorescence, number of flowers ranges from 2 to 128 per plant. A plant bears an average of 40 flowers each season.
Though seeds are large in number, germination capacity is below 5%. They are minute.
Stem is quadrangular in shape hard at the base when mature. They remain erect even in rainy season. The plant bears nonlodging property.
Leaves are sessile linear. It is with five prominent veins arranged in opposite fashion.
Roots of the plant are thick and act as perennating structure.
It is considered as a herbal remedy for diabetics and skin diseases. Traditional doctors prescribe the decoction of the full plant for washing eyes.
Exacum bicolor as an endangered species:-
The herb Exacum species endemic to peninsular India and it is placed under endangered species.The Drastic ecological change that leads to the habitat destruction of the plant which is already on the verge extinction. The dry grass lands are exploited for laterite mining excavation and raising rubber and cashew plantations.