Lal Chitrak
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Lal Chitrak
ative Photo: Pravin Kawale
Common name: Plumbago, Scarlet leadwort, Rose-colored Leadwort • Hindi: लाल चित्रक Lal chitrak • Manipuri: ꯃꯨꯒꯥꯂꯩ Mugalei, ꯇꯦꯜꯍꯤꯗꯥꯛ ꯑꯉꯥꯡꯕꯥ Telhidak angangba • Oriya: ଅଗ୍ନୀ Ogni • Bengali: ৰক্ত চিত্ৰক Rakt-chitrak • Tamil: அக்கினி பூ Akkini Poo, செங்கொடுவேரி Chenkoṭuveri • Gujarati: કાલોચિત્રક Kalochitrak • Kannada: ಚಿತ್ರಮಲಿಕಾ Chitramulika • Malayalam: Kotuveli • Konkani: तांबडी चित्रक Tambdi chitrak
Botanical name: Plumbago indica    Family: Plumbaginaceae (Plumbago family)
Synonyms: Plumbago rosea, Thela coccinea

Lal Chitrak is a plant commonly cultivated in gardens throughout India. This winter flowering plant begins to show off its soft red, festive colors in time for winters. A nice change from the traditional poinsettia, this Indian native continues to flower for months to come. Lal Chitrak makes an outstanding container plant for a sunny window. Watch with fascination how the flowers keep emerging on the same flower spike from winter until spring. This is an erect or spreading, more or less branched, herbaceous or half-woody plant 1.5 meters or less in height. The leaves are ovate to oblong-ovate, 8 to 13 centimeters long, slightly drooping, and smooth, with entire, undulate or wavy margins, pointed or blunt tip, and pointed base. The spikes are 15 to 30 centimeters long. The calyx is tubular, 8 to 10 millimeters long, and covered with stalked, sticky glands. The corolla is bright red, the tube is slender and about 2.5 centimeters long, and the limb, which spreads, is about 3 cm in diameter.
Medicinal uses: The root is acrid, vesicant, abortifacient and a stimulant. Applied in bland oil, it is used externally or internally in rheumatism and paralytic afflictions. The root is powerful sialogogue and a remedy for secondary syphilis, leprosy and leucoderma. The milky juice of the plant is used in ophthalmia and in scabies.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Alibag, Maharashtra.

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