Ritha or Soapberry (Sapindus saponaria, family: Sapindaceae) is a a medium-sized much branching tree attaining a height of 15 m. Its bark is dark with rough scales. The deciduous tree is originated from tropical America. Nowadays it has been naturalized in Bangladesh as well as tropical areas of Asia. The good looking tree is found in the North-West region of the country.
Leaves are green, 2-6 pairs per pinnae, 40 cm long, terminal leaf absent. Leaflets almost opposite or alternate, elliptic-lanceolate, 5-15 cm long and 3-6 cm wide, petioled, apex emarginate.
After leaving all the leaves in the winter, new leaves arrives in the beginning of spring.
Flowering occurs in the summer. Inflorescence up to 25 cm long. Flowers creamy white, tomentose. Petals 5. Fruit is drupe, solitary or pair, fleshy, subglobose, 1 cm in diameter, glabrous. Fruiting occurs in rainy season. The propagation of the plant is caused by seeds.
Fibers on inner bark are used for making ropes. Fruits are used as a substitute for soap because of the high amount of saponin. The fruits are used in memory loss disease and breathing difficulties. Fruits are also used in fish poisoning.
Seeds are formally used as buttons and beads. A kind of oil is extracted from the seeds too. In Sanskrit, it is called Arishta and Phenil.
Tulsi o r Sacred basil ( Ocimum tenuiflorum , family: Lamiaceae) is an odorous perennial herb or undershrub with many branches attaining a height of 1-1.5 m. Almost whole body of the plant is covered with hairs. Stem is woody, furrowed and quadrangular. Like many other herbs (Dhutra, Begun, Pepper) the plant can be purple. It is found everywhere in Bangladesh as a medicinal as well as sacred plant to Hindu community. It has spread across a huge global range, extending from the Arabian Peninsula to East Asia as well as Pacific Islands to Australia. Other names: Kalo tulsi (Bang); Tulasi, Ajaka (Sans); Holy basil (Eng). Leaves are strongly scented, green or purple, hairy, ovate-broadly elliptical, 2-5 cm long and 1-1.5 cm wide, opposite, irregularly dented, petiole 2-3 cm long. Flowers are tiny, white or purplish, 3-8 on terminal inflorescence (12-25 cm long). Corolla bilabiate, petals 5, calyx divided into two parts, Stamens 4. It produces flower almost round the year. Fruit is n
Guloncho or Heart-leaved moonseed ( Tinospora cordifolia , family: Menispermaceae) is a deciduous creeper with hard and long stem, climbing other trees or fences. Bark on the stem is as thin as paper. Aerial roots come out of the stem when the plant grows older. The plant is found everywhere in Bangladesh except southern part. It is also native to South and Southeast Asia. Common names: Heart-leaved moonseed, Guduchi, Giloy, Guloncho, Guroncho, Padma guloncho. Leaves are simple, green, alternate, cordate, 6-15 cm long and 5-13 cm wide. Inflorescence, growing from the axil of leaflet branches, bears yellow flowers. Male and female flowers bloom separately. Sepals 6, arranged in two rows, petal 6, pistils 3. Fruit is a drupe, brilliant red when ripe. This attractive fruit is inedible to human. What an extensive climber! Tinospora cordifolia is used in weakness, tastelessness, rheumatis
Makal or Mahakal ( Trichosanthes tricuspidata , family: Cucurbitaceae) is a woody climber with tendril and branches, attaining a height of 10-12 m. The multiangular-branched plant climbs up very far by holding any tree in the forest. It is found in the hilly areas as well as plain forests and village thickets in Bangladesh. It is also found in Indian subcontinent, Australia and some countries of South and Southeast Asia. According to ancient Sanskrit scriptures the other names of the plant are Bishala, Mohendro-baruni. In the Himalayas it has been seen at an altitude of 5000 feet. There are many refferences to the fruit in Bangla and Sanskrit literature. Someone is very nice to look at but he/she is useless--writers usually jokingly give examples of this fruit. Its roots and attractive fruits are packed with medicinal properties. The size and shape of leaves may vary. These are multilobed or trilobed, alternate, rough in both sides, 5-12 cm long, petioled, cor