Botanical name: Caralluma fimbriata Family: Apocynaceae (Oleander family)
Synonyms: Ceropegia adscendens var. fimbriata
Caralluma is an erect branched herb, 20-30 cm tall. Stems are leafless, 4-angled, fleshy, green, tapering to a point. Leaves are minute, present only on young branches, soon falling off, leaving a tooth-like projection on the angles. Flowers are borne at the end of branches, singly or 2-3 together on short stalks. Flowers are like wheels, 2 cm across. Petals are narrow, purple with yellow marking, and margins frilly with hairs. Fruits are 10-12 cm long, cylindric with one of the pairs often suppressed. Caralluma is found in peninsular India. It has been eaten in rural India for centuries, raw, as a vegetable with spices, or preserved in chutneys and pickles, and is often found as a roadside shrub or boundary marker. It has been used as a portable food and thirst quencher for hunting. It is also used for its purported ability to suppress hunger and appetite and enhance stamina. Tribesmen on a day's hunt will often only pack some Caralluma to sustain themselves and hence it is commonly considered a "famine food" in India. Flowering: July-August.
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