03 August 2016
Variously known as Juhi, Chameli, Mogra and Malati in North India and asMalligai and Mallepoovu etc. in the South, the fragrant and delicate Jasmine flower is deeply embedded in the Indian psyche.
The very name ‘Jasmine’ evokes the romance of balmy summer evenings redolent with the haunting fragrance of the flower in bloom.
A native to the tropics and warm temperate regions of the world, Jasmine belongs to the family Oleaceae, and may grow as a shrub or as a climbing vine. Typically its leaf shape is simple, trifoliate or pinnate, with upto nine leaflets growing opposite each other. The small and delicate flowers are usually white in colour, though some species bear yellow blossoms. Flowering in the spring and summer, the blossoms bloom in the dark, perfuming the night air with a lingering sweet fragrance.
Widely used in religious offerings, the flowers are also popular for decorative purposes. Many Indian women wear these flowers in their hair. The flowers are also kept inside homes to perfume the air.
Commonly grown as a houseplant in much of SE Asia., the plant is now widely cultivated across the globe for commercial purposes. In fact, the aromatic oil distilled from its flowers is prized in aromatherapy, and in the making of joss sticks,cosmetics, and perfumes, etc. It is also used to add flavour to tea and rice. Many believe that daily consumption of Jasmine tea helps in preventing certain cancers.