Wild flora of Nainital, Kumaon Himalaya Photo Journal
It is the Bicchu booti that got me interested in the wayside foliage.
It is the Bicchu booti that got me interested in the wayside foliage. As I moved to the side of the road to make way for a car coming downhill on Aryapatta slopes, my left leg brushed against a leaf of Bicchu Booti. It felt like a bee sting, and I raced my brain about hearing something of the bicchu boti from a previous visit to Jim Corbett National Park and the guide had shown the bicchu booti and its antidote growing nearby.
Unknown beauty by the wayside
Oak trees: Tilaunj, Buranz; along with Angu, Pangad, Rhododendron claim the hillsides and are home to black langoors and red-bottomed monkeys
Green Green hillside
A distant temple framed in wild flora
A cluster of different herbs
From the giloi family?
Looks like a potato tuber… is it one?
The ‘royal’ bicchu booti
Bicchu booti cannot be messed with! The slightest touch of the bicchu booti leaf ensures a stinging pain which may last for 24 hours. The cure is to apply the juice of a herb that is always found growing in the vicinity of the bicchu booti – Hara Patta.
Ayurvedic benefits of bicchu booti
Though bicchu booti may be infamous because of it’s stinging powers (not unlike that of a scorpion or wasp sting), locals tell me that they use it for food and medicine! The leaves of this plant is boiled and fried to add to a meal. This vegetable preparation if had once a week cures arthritis, and promotes bone health preventing problems in bones and cartilages.
Bicchu booti (left) growing alongside Hara patta (right)
Hara patta in bloom
I see the Hara patta on waysides in Lucknow too.
I see this plant in Lucknow too, but don’t know the name
Clover or Shamrock
Familiar but don’t know the name
A flurry of runners and creepers
Scared of this tentacled thing? I am.
But I am am told that the Bicchu booti is a tame thing when compared to the wild flora of Valley of Flowers (Nanda Devi National Park) and Hemkund Sahib. Not all the plants there have been documented. And some have special powers of stinging, causing swelling, itching and even unconsciousness. Plus there are just a few locals to help a traveller out with antidotes. So the general advice to all trekkers there is, ‘Do not touch or smell any plant.’ The Bicchu booti has its easily identifiable antidote growing nearby, but the same may not be true for many herbs in the Valley of Flowers.
Road map of Nanital
[Photo credits: Anisha Sharma]