Flowers are beautiful in a strange way; some have unbelievable magical powers that can do wonders that modern medicine can’t, while some look absolutely gorgeous but can kill you within seconds.
The myths, legends and facts about flowers I find on treks always stuns me. And trust me this is useful information that you should know before heading out in the wilderness.
Here are some beauties we stumbled across on the Bali Pass trek, and the stories behind them.
1.The flowers of the Gods – Phen Kamal and Brahma Kamal.
Before I explain how precious these two flowers are, let me tell you a little bit about Hindu mythology. So Sanjeevani, according to the myths, is a magical herb that has the power to cure any illness. It is believed that any medicine made from this herb could revive a dead person. And this magical herb has been continuously searched in the Himalayas for centuries, the Uttrakhand government has actually set a multi-million-dollar budget aside to continue the search for this herb in 2016, so this is no joke.
And both these flowers are somewhat like candidates of sanjeevani because of their medicinal benefits.
This curious looking wooly haired herb grows very close to snow line in the Himalayas. We caught sight of this plant on our way to the base camp of Bali Pass. It blooms mid-monsoons between July and September, just like Brahma Kamal. And the essence from this plant is still used as a remedy for cough, leucorrhoea, all kinds of nervous debility, and for blood purification. The root extracts are also used in treating plague and snake bites.
We saw Brahma Kamal at Odari, the campsite right before the base camp. This is the state flower of Uttrakhand and is named after Brahma, the Hindu God of creation, who is always depicted as sitting on a pink lotus, and holding a white lotus in his hands. There are several legends about flower, and many believe that this is the life restoring flower of the Gods. It only grows only at high altitudes between 4500-5000m and apparently just blooms for one night a year.
In terms of the health benefits, it can cure some super serious badass diseases. Soup made from this plant helps sooth liver inflammations and it also increases blood volume in the body. The juice from this plant is used to cure fevers. The flowers and leaves are used for the treatment of bone ache, intestinal ailments, cough, and cold. And the rhizomes of the flower are used as antiseptic and for healing cuts and bruises. In the Tibetan system of medicine (known as ‘Amchi’ system), the plant is used in the treatment of paralysis of limbs and cerebral.
So, these are some serious benefits. All of this is super fascinating for me. It’s almost like having a two-magical flower in the heart of the Himalayas that not many people are aware of. However, sadly, due to all the health benefits and legends associated with wishes coming true, these flowers are illegally sold outside of India or are used as offerings in temples by pious believers. And because of this, they are close to being extinct.
Ok so moving on, I promise I will keep things short from this point.
2. The Himalayan Monkshood:
Also known as wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane, devil’s helmet, queen of poisons or blue rocket. While there are flowers in the Himalayas that can heal you, there are also ones that can most definitely kill you.
These pretty like flowers contain several poisonous compounds, including enough cardiac poison that was used on spears and arrows for hunting and battles in ancient times. It is one of the poisonous plant you’ll come across in the mountains, and everything from the leaves to the roots, has enough poison to kill a human being within a few hours.
So, watch out!
3. The cute little poisonous Buttercups:
Yup, these cute little babies are super poisonous too. You’ll find them on several Himalayan treks, as they prefer moist habitats. They get their name because of the cup-like shape and butter like colour. All parts of the buttercup are poisonous. Signs of intoxication appear almost immediately after ingestion of this plant. These include bloody diarrhea, excessive salivation, colic and blistering of the intestines. Pretty disgusting, I know. So, avoid touching, smelling or ingesting them at all costs. They are just meant to be admired from a distance.
Of course, this is not it, these were just some of the flowers that have interesting tales and facts about them.
You will find loads of other flowers on the trail that are known for their attractiveness too, like the Himalayan knotweed, fleeceflower, geranium, dandelions, the Himalayan balsam and many more. You can read up about them right here.
Keep exploring but be safe out there.
Find out more about Bali Pass.