Tiruvannamalai, Ramanashramam, Flora – 1

Lets begin with a look at Arunachala through some foliage, before we move on to some more flora.

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Now lets walk into Ramanashramam. And check out a particular tree.

Near the Mahanirvana room is this stately tree – Cycas circinalis, a variety of the Cycad species of trees. A beautiful palm-like tree, with a short trunk and large fronds.

Some info that I could gather on the cycads:

Cycads are ancient trees. They are referred to as ‘living fossils’ because they have been on earth since “Jurassic” times, and are said to have hardly changed over all this time. They are not prevalent all that much now, but are said to have been extremely common in the Jurassic period. (Jurassic is a geologic period that extended from about 135 to 195 million years before now. During the age of the dinosaurs, the cycads were the most prevalent plants on Earth).

Cycas circinalis is an old, evergreen, tropical tree. It can live for over a thousand years.

Cycads are dioecious plants, or in other words, there are separate male and female plants. The female plant produces the seeds, and the male produces cones with pollen in them. One of the reasons why cycads have survived all this time, is that they “are real survivors”. They can grow on sand or even on rock. They can withstand heat and cold. They don’t need all that much of rain.

It’s a precious plant all right, and is considered a real status symbol. Value of your real estate is higher if you have this tree in your garden. Unfortunately, the population of this tree is said to be dwindling, and is high on the ‘conservation list’ in India.

Cycads have been considered sacred in India and have been used as decorations in temple festivals. In some other parts of the world, it is a symbol of veneration of the dead. In Java, Cycas was planted around tombs.

Sacred Samadhi places… Sri Ramanashramam is ‘the’ place to be in, for the Cycas tree.

Here is a picture of the tree at Ramanashramam. Notice the cone-flower. That’s the male flower. The tree is known to flower every other year. So, savor the picture… The flower of the living fossil…

** To be contd **

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One Response to “Tiruvannamalai, Ramanashramam, Flora – 1”

  1. iyamma Says:

    Hi, enjoyed reading about the flora of Tiruvannamalai and the cycas tree at the Asram. I have often enjoyed its unique, somewhat pungent fragrance when it flowers. I always wanted to know about the kind of flora and fauna that existed in Tiruvannamalai during the times of the Nayanamars and right down to bhagavan.
    Would also be interested in any mythological stories linked with this tree.

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