Himalayan Wonder-Flower
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Himalayan Wonder-Flower
P Native Photo: Ashutosh Sharma
Common name: Himalayan Wonder-Flower • Tibetan: བ་སྤྲུ་ Ba-spru, ཤྭ་གནདཧ་ Shwa gandha
Botanical name: Mirabilis himalaica    Family: Nyctaginaceae (Bougainvillea family)
Synonyms: Allionia himalaica, Oxybaphus himalaicus

Himalayan Wonder-Flower is an interesting plant which is the Himalayan cousin of the popular garden flower Four O'clock. The genus name Mirabilis means 'wonderful', and also the common name Wonder-Flower. It is a more or less creeping herb with pale reddish-brown stems, almost heart-shaped leaves and small, light rose to dark pink flowers. The oppositely arranged ovate leaves are up to 6 cm long, with stalks up to 2 cm long. The leaves in the upper part are covered with short, soft hairs, especially on the underside, in the lower part they are hairless or sparsely covered with long, prostrate hairs. Flowers are arranged in lax, leafy, sticky panicles. Flowers are bell-shaped to funnel-shaped, approximately 5-6 mm across. The base of the flower is surrounded by an involucre of five bracts which resembles a sepal-cup. The involucre is covered with stalked purple-tipped glands. Fruit is a compressed, ovoid achene, which is surrounded by the persistent base of the involucre and contains one seed. The plant has a long, swollen root, which serves as a storage organ and enables the plant to get through the dry and cold seasons. Himalayan Wonder-Flower is native to Himalaya to NW India and Central China, at altitudes of 2300-4000 m. Flowering: July-September.
Medicinal uses: Himalayan Wonder-Flower is used in traditional Tibetan folk medicine. It has been historically employed in nourishing the kidney, regenerating tissue, for diuresis, and in removing kidney stones, with accounts that could be traced back to more than 1300 years ago.

Identification credit: Ashutosh Sharma, Nidhan Singh Photographed at Kalpa, Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh.

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