Mongoose Plant
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Mongoose Plant
P Native Photo: Preetha P.S.
Common name: Mongoose Plant, Indian Snake-Root • Hindi: Sarahati, सरहटी Sarhati • Kannada: Garuda paathaala, garuda patala, Mungasee gida • Malayalam: Avilpori, Chembajarinjil, Pera-aratha • Marathi: Mungusavela, नागवेली Nagvelli • Sanskrit: सर्पाक्षी Sarpaakshi, नागसुगन्धा Nagasugandha, Nakuleshtha • Tamil: Aravakkiriti, ஸர்பாக்ஷீ Sarpakshi-Chettu, நாகவல்லீ Nagavalli • Telugu: Sarpakshi-chettu
Botanical name: Ophiorrhiza mungos    Family: Rubiaceae (Coffee family)
Synonyms: Ophiorrhiza ostindica

Mongoose Plant is an annual erect herb, rooting at lower nodes. The species name is based on the folklore that mongoose eat this plant when bitten by a snake. Leaves are 7-15 x 3-6 cm, elliptic or elliptic-lanceshaped, base narrowed, tip tapering, papery, hairy on veins below. Leaf-stalks are up to 1.5 cm, stipules sharp-tipped, 3-5 mm long, 2-fid at tip. Flowers are borne at branch-ends, in branched, scorpion-like cymes, dense. Flower-cluster-stalks are up to 2.5 cm long, rusty velvet-hairy. Sepal-tube is about 1 mm long; sepals obscure. Flowers are 0.8-1 cm long, white with pink shades on petals. Capsules are 2.5-3 long, 4-6 mm wide, inverted-heart-shaped, laterally compressed, hairless, seeds many, angular. Mongoose Plant is found in India, Bangladesh, East Himalaya, Jawa, Malaya, Myanmar, Nicobar Is., Sri Lanka, Sumatera, Thailand, Vietnam. Flowering: August-October.
Medicinal uses: In India, the bitter root of Mongoose Plant is used as an antidote for snake bites. Some scientists contest the anti-snake-bite properties of the plant. They believe that this misconception seems to be based on its resemblance to Rauvolfia serpentina.

Identification credit: Preetha P.S. Photographed in Palode, Thiruvananthapuram , Kerala.

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