The vastness of India makes it understandable that the country lays claim to several different climate regions from the Himalayan mountains to the Rajasthan Desert to the Deccan plateau to the southeast coastlands, among others. Monsoon weather from June to October brings heavy rains, but from December through February, most of India enjoys cool and dry winter weather that sets the stage for winter flowers.
"Ashwagandha" is Hindi for winter cherry (Withania somnifera), a perennial herb that can grow to heights of around 6 feet. It is native to India and a member of the Solanaceae, or potato, family. The winter cherry flowers in the late fall and winter, exhibiting dainty, green or yellow blooms, followed by orange fruit. Ashwagandha has an ancient medicinal history, dating back around 4,000 years, with every part of the plant in use, from the seeds to the roots. The roots produce a tonic for vitality and longevity and in this connection, the winter cherry is often called "Indian ginseng." Nervous conditions, intestinal infections and leprosy are among the disorders treated with the alkaloids contained in this plant. It is an established relaxant. In 2003, the postal authority of India issued a commemorative postage stamp honoring ashwagandha.
Indian Coral Tree
The Indian coral tree (Erythrina variegata) is called "pangara" in Hindi and is native to India. However, it is another common name, tiger claw, that best describes one of its distinctive features--namely, branches with black tiger's claw spines. This ornamental tree exhibits bright crimson clusters of flowers that are 2 to 3 inches long. The flowers appear before the new leaves in late winter or the start of spring. The Indian coral tree grows to heights of about 80 feet high and 40 feet wide. Lenten tree is also a common name for this tree, which is a member of the Fabaceae, or pea, family.
Lal chitrak (Plumbago indica) is classified as a perennial native herb of India. Besides its Hindi name, it is also called plumbago and scarlet leadwort. It is a popular garden plant in India, flowering in brilliant red during the winter months, giving the poinsettia a lot of competition, and lasting much longer. Some gardeners grow lal chitrak in containers because of its continuous flowers and the relative ease of caring for this herbaceous plant that usually reaches no more than 5 feet in height. Lal chitrak has a variety of medicinal uses. It is a member of the Plumbaginaceae, or plumbago, family.