(Last Updated on : 02/07/2013)
The evergreen garden shrub that is very popular in India and usually grows to a height of 1.8 m. or so is called the 'Moonbeam'. Its Latin name derived from a 16th Century Botanist named Tabemaemontanus and the word means "used for garlands". It can grow wildly. The Botanists of the world named it as 'Tabernaemontana Coronaria'. It derived from the family of 'Apocynaceae'. It has two forms like single and double. In both the languages of Hindi
, the shrub is known as 'Firki Tagar' (single) and 'Bara Tagar' (double). The Tamil people call it as 'Nandia Vetta'. In Malayalam, the name of this shrub is 'Nandia Vattum'. It has some other names in English except the popular name like
If you look at this tree on a moonlit night, you will understand very easily why the shrub is called as 'Chandnee' or 'Moonbeam'. The main reason is that the growing whiteness of the flowers stands out against the dark and shining leaves. The shrub bears some scattered clumps of stunning, white flowers. The flowers remain in greater numbers on those bushes that get plenty of sunlight. The branches and twigs of the shrub are ashy and wrinkled and they are marked by the bases of past leaf shoots. These leaf shoots are green in colour and polished. The branched shoots terminate in pairs of leaves that grow crosswise to each other. The young leaves of the 'Moonbeam' are of a rich, glossy green colour. They become darker and even glossier when they are matured. They can grow up to 10 cm in length. They are pointed and shaped like ovals. They tapered down to the short stalk and are indented by the veins.
In the wild state of the shrub, the flowers remain single. However, in cultivated forms, they are usually double, a pale yellow tube that rises from a small, yellowish calyx and spreads out into around, overlapping, wavy-edged petals. The whole thing forms a wonderful gardenia-like bloom of nearly 3.8 cm across. The delicate fragrance of the flowers of the 'Moonbeam' increases towards evening and if the sprays are cut, it makes a pleasant table decoration. The women in the 'Deccan' use the flowers as buttons and all Indian women like to wear them in their hair. The fruits of this shrub are three-ribbed. Each of those three is from 2.5 to 7.5 cm in length. They are spreading, like a pair of horns and they contain some red coloured, fleshy seeds. The seeds make a good red dye when they are pulped. The shrub propagates by layers or cuttings.
The shrub is quite a useful one. A good resin is contained in the milky juice that exudes from the cut branches of the 'Moonbeam'. The roots of the shrub are also valuable. They can be used either as a vermicide or as a cure for certain eye diseases by mixing them with limejuice. The juice that is obtained from the leaves can be used as a remedy for Opthalmia. People manufacture perfumes from the amusingly fragrant wood of the shrub and it is burnt as incense also.