Common name: False daisy, Bhringraj, Kaiyyunyam, Kayyonni, Kayyonyam, Karisalankanni
A plant with varied medicinal uses in traditional herbal medicine and Ayurveda, False daisy plants are seen very commonly in India. These plants can grow to a height of 70-90 cms, younger plants being erect, and older ones being partially erect with stems slanting towards the ground.
Older stems are purple in color, lightly hairy, and capable of rooting at the nodes to keep the plant upright. Leaves are small, dark green about 5-8 cms long, mostly opposite, having small white hairs on both the lower and upper surfaces. False daisy plants produces small white flowers growing from the axils, the angle between the leaves and the stem; or from the tip of the stem.
Flowers have many hair-like ray florets surrounding the central disk florets which are quite short, and has yellow stamens projecting from the center of the florets.
Once pollinated, these flowers produce small green fruits that contain seeds arranged in a beautiful geometrical pattern. These seeds turn brownish-black on maturity and fall way from the stalk, which later withers and turns black. A single plants can produce over 15,000 seeds thus helping the plant spread quickly.
During monsoon season, many dormant seeds come to life making False daisies a common sight in Kerala backyards and roadsides. Bhringraj is extensively used for haircare with special oils and packs made from all parts of this plant.
For making Bhringraj oil, boil 1 liter of coconut oil. Once it starts bubbling, add one glass of juice taken from the leaves, stem and flowers of this plant. Boil this for 20-30 minutes before straining out the oil. Regular application of Bhringraj or Kaiyyunyam oil helps in hair growth, prevents hair loss and dandruff.
False daisy plants grow well in well-drained, moist soil. They can be grown from seeds that are collected from wild plants, that can germinate and flourish easily in home gardens. These medicinal herbs are now disappearing from the wild due to urbanization. And one way to make sure these plants survive is to move these wild herbs into home gardens.
When fancy plants from nurseries act pricey and die for no reason, it’s time to move to a herb garden with local herbs that can beautiful your garden, at the same time providing home remedies for many common ailments.
Propagation is through seeds and mature stem cuttings.