RAIPUR: With the COVID-19 pandemic having gripped the world with fear, the people usually respond to the image of coronavirus with alarm and much misgiving. But coronavirus-lookalike flowers blooming in valleys of the conflict zone of Bastar relate a different tale as they are believed to carry significance in the life of the tribals in south Chhattisgarh. The people who never saw such flowers might momentarily turn unease witnessing it the first time. Interestingly, the flower which recalls to one’s mind a living image of COVID-19, belong to the Melastomes family. According to the botalists, this flower is grown in a small evergreen tree native to the Matnar valley of Chitrakot in Bastar. In this part of India it's mostly known by the name Aali though in Sri Lanka it is popular as ironwood”, stated Dr M L Nayak, an expert specialised in plant life. Some unverified traditional knowledge with therapeutic effects have been ascribed to Memecylon edule. “The extract of Aali leaves are reported to be carrying the remedy as anti-diarrheal and the fruit juice of this plant to cure digestive problems among the local inhabitants of Bastar. Its bark used locally to treat the bruises”, said Dr Manohar Sagar, an Ayurveda practitioner. The light brown wood of the plant also makes good charcoal.
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