Published: Tuesday, May 28, 2013

READER'S CHIT

“Fireball Lily”

Let me quote from a famous poem of Rabindranath Tagore titled “Amar phoolbaganer phulguli”( Flowers in my garden): “Amar phoolbaganer phulgulike badhbo na aj toray”( I don’t like to make a bouquet with my garden’s flowers). Rabindranath expressed his depth of feeling for the flowers in this way as he wanted to see them in the garden as part of nature. He did not like to destroy natural beauty by plucking flowers and putting them in the flower vase. The literary master has a point — it is really amazing to see flowers in the garden along with branches and leaves. Like him, I love to share my own feelings of joy about the blooming fireball lily in my garden.

Page 801Every year, usually the first or second week of May it starts to bloom in the tiny balcony of my apartment. I have no idea about the Bengali name of the flower popularly known as Mayflower and with the common names of Blood Flower, Catherine Wheel , Poison Root and Fireball Lily, etc. Among all, I find “Fireball lily” most appropriate as they resemble red fire crackers. It is also known as Scadoxus Multiflorus to floriculturists and botanists in many parts of the world. In Greek, doxus means glorious, but sca means obscure which rather confuses the issue. The specific name multiflorus means many flowers in Latin.

The spectacular flowerhead is a large spherical umbel consisting of up to 200 flowers, held clear of the foliage at the end of a solitary stem. Each plant will produce only one flowerhead in a season. A flowerhead can reach a diameter of 25cm and a height of 110 cm — nearly waist high. The flowerheads last for one or two weeks and make superb cut flowers.

Scadoxus Multiflorous is an evergreen, summer-growing perennial that requires semi-shade and can flourish even in heavy shade. This is a very useful plant for a garden in the shade and it is recommended as an indoor plant.

These plants are poisonous. In Cameroon, Gabon, Angola and the Central African Republic, it is used as an arrow poison.

Let me get back to my garden where six flowerheads bloom in one big pot and the other three in another pot. It is really almost impossible to describe their loveliness in words. I should not try even to narrate the gorgeousness and magnificence of the flowers which can only be felt. A mantra I hold dear to my heart is: “Let the flowers bloom in my garden for years and let them live in their own place with their unique beauty”.