Lawsonia inermis is where you get that “hypnotising” dye to apply on hands, hair and fingertips (better known as Mehndi)! But have you ever been introduced to how it looks, from where it belongs, and what other benefits it possesses?
1. Lawsonia is the genus of the plant commonly known as Mehndi and scientifically, Lawsonia inermis. The other species of Lawsonia is L. odorata.
- Lawsonia inermis is commonly referred to as-
- ‘Jetuka’ in Assamese
- Mailanji in Malayalam
- Marudaani in Tamil
- Hena Pambi in Manipuri
- Mehndi in Hindi
- Egyptian Privet, Hina, Henna, Zanzibar Bark, Mignonette, Camphire in English.
The plant is so popular that it has dozens of other names, from language to language.
- In India, it is most commonly known as Hina, Hena/Henna, Mendi/Mehendi.
- Hina is Amharic
- Hena/Henna is Arabic
- Mendi/Mehendi is Bengali
4. You might be thinking of “Law and Sonia,“–like what a combo, right! Right? Well, it’s derived from the physician friend of Father Of Taxonomy (Carl Linnaeus).
- Belonging from the family of flowering plants (Lythraceae), it is also called a small tree. Let’s go into its looks and (average) sizes!
- deciduous shrub (grey-brown and thin): 2cm to 3cm long/tall
- hairless/smooth skin
- young branches: green and four-sided with no arms
- multi-branched (turn red as grow; 1.5cm to 5cm x 0.5cm to 2cm)
- near to no joint (stalkless or no petiole or sub-sessile), spiny
- Leaves: simple, elliptical in shape, grow opposite (on branches), depressed veins (upper/underside/dorsal surface), lance shape (long-wide in the centre), get narrow on ends.
6. Lawsonia inermis flowers are tiny, white, fragrant and many in number on each branch. These are large, “pyramidal terminal cymes” and 1cm across.
- Let’s talk about reproduction and pollination!
- 0.2cm calyx tubes that support petals and protect flower buds (floral cups that contain sepal, stamen and calyx).
- 4 sepals
- 4 crumpled petals inside a bud.
- flat-ring/disc-shaped (orbicular) ovate petals.
- white/red stamens on (produce pollen/ reproductive organ)
- 0.5cm ovaries: long, erect, 4-celled.
- The many-seeded (30-50 seeds) fruit of Lawsonia inermis are capsules of brownish shade and small (globose/smooth).
- Diameter: 0.4cm to 0.8cm
- Seeds: 0.3cm across, angular, thick-coated
- irregularly opens in four-splits in persistent style
It has been studied that Birds might feed the Mehendi Plant Fruits, spreading the seeds.
- Preferred environment of Lawsonia inermis to thrive:
- Zone: Semi-arid; Area: Tropical; Plains and Low Hills)
- Temperature (average/overall/annually): 19 to 27 degree Celsius.
- Temperature (germinate, grow, develop, cultivate dyes): High (35-45 degrees Celsius or 95-113 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Soil Type: Sandy (pH: 4.3 to 8)
- It thrives along the watercourses.
- Rainfall (average/overall/annually): 200mm-4200mm (Thus, intervals in precipitation aids in rapid growth and development of new shoots).
- What kind of environments/conditions this plant can adapt/tolerate?
- This plant can tolerate/adapt to low-air, drought, humidity and growing in clay soil, poor soil and stony soil.
- It can die in temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius (41 Fahernites) and do not grow well anywhere between 5 to 10 degrees Celsius (41 to 52 Fahernites).
- In colder temperatures (as above), the Henna Flowers can turn yellow and shed.
11. You might have guessed the areas by now! Interestingly, this plant is not native to India. Although, it has been adapted, cultivated and widely distributed all around Assam. It is also grown in other parts of Central Asia.
12. The plant is native to Northern Africa and Australia, and parts of Asia. As one of its names suggests (Egyptian Privet), the plant is native to Egypt, Algeria, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Yemen, Iraq, Iran etc.
Who could’ve thought that the plant from where we obtain our favourite temporary tattoo-ink and dye has so much to tell us about itself!
Moreover, this plant has a lot to give to humans. It has been used for ages for body art, beauty, rituals etc. It is also a widely procured medicinal plant for thousands of years now.
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