The commonest flower

Common flowers of the Sahyadris

Sonkadi (Pentanema indicum) is a short spreading herb which you see almost everywhere in India when it is not too dry. In the monsoon it grows all over the Sahyadris. Clusters of these yellow flowers can be found in roadside ditches, wastelands, as weeds in untended gardens. It is often used in folk-medicine, to cure everything from colds and fevers to stomach pains. In fact so many useful chemicals have been extracted from it that there are studies on how to grow the flowers in the lab without having to grow the whole plant.

Pentanema indicum, sonkadi

Why is it so hardy and widespread? Where did it come from? After a lot of search I found that these simple questions are too complicated to answer now. It turns out that this species is a member of the largest family of flowering plants known. This is the sunflower family, called Asteraceae. Within this family is a tribe called the Inuleae whose core members have yellow hermaphroditic flowers. This is where the Sonkadi belongs. This is a partial answer to the questions that arise in my mind whenever I see these hardy plants poking out of inhospitable spots.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

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