New tools need to be tested. I’m not yet familiar with my new camera. So, in Vaitarna I was still playing with focus stacking when I aimed it at patches of growth. The results surprised me over and over again. Once it was these tiny white flowers, each about a millimeter in size. They grew in clusters, and each cluster was less than a centimeter across. If I’d looked more carefully, I would have also tried out a further zoom. As it is, I have to be satisfied with the photos you see here. It took me a while to identify this as the Alternathera tenella.

Why does it not have a local name? Simply because it is an invader. This diverse genus, containing 80 to 100 species, is largely confined to the tropical Americas. In fact, recent genetic studies seem to trace this species to the Galapagos. It is used in Brazilian folk medicine, and has generated a huge literature. The fact that it is not used in local folk medication shows that it is a rather recent arrival. Several species of Alternanthera are persistent weeds, as this one must be (specimens have been collected in Odisha earlier). What are its pollinators? Is each flower perfect? I don’t know. But I’m happy to have a camera which lets me into its tiny world.

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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