Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Cool One ( Kalanchoe pinnata)

I love two things in the picture. In the background is my one year old cat named Inul. She's now very much in her teens. Inspite of the rainy days when the grounds are usually wet she would dash in and out of the house at her own free will . Being the 'queen of the house' I have to wipe her feet when wet or dirty and feed her when she yells at me. No, scream would be a better word. She catches small birds, butterflies, geckos and lizards and proudly display her bounty on the rattan mat for her fospa ( foster father - a new cat terminology?) to see. That's me.

In the foreground is a flowering 'Setawar' or Air Plant ( Kalanchoe pinnata). I have taken the liberty to place a banana leaf as a backdrop to help highlight its colours. I love its clusters of tubular bell-shaped flowers hanging downwards. Another Malay synonymn for it is ' Sedingin ' which loosely translated means the 'cool one'. Apparently the saw- edged leaves after being pounded into a paste can be applied directly to the chest or forehead to lessen bodily heat or fever or as antidote for insect bites, boils and burns. Sometimes lotion from the leaves are used for a variety of sicknesses like arthritis.

Aside from its herbal medicinal use, it is symbolically used in rituals. Its leaves are swayed by ritualists to welcome spirits. When planted around paddy fields they are believed to bring in a good harvest.

Here's a close up of the inflorescence. The flowers with reddish violet colours are about 3-4 cm long. Nowadays I understand that the Dutch have successfuly made hybrids of them producing yellow, orange, pink and purple flowers. The flowers are long lasting ( 2-3 weeks). The Setawar is originated from the equatorial island of Madagascar but now is widely found throughout the tropics. This succulent plant thrives on well-drained soil and prefers a semi-shade location. I prefer to plant them en masse or in groups though it is possible to grow them singularly in pots or containers.

4 comments:

Protege said...

Love the description of you cat:;) That is exactly how cats are; they demand attention. It is funny how they love to bring the pray home.
What an interesting plant; the flowers look very delicate.
Always a fun to come by your place.;)

Protege said...

Ok, I meant YOUR cat, not you cat, sorry.;)
Hehe.;))

Protege said...

I am back again; I gave you an award at my place; hope you will accept it.;))

Mahmud Yussop said...

Protege, So very kind of you. I accept it with great honour.