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E Native Photo: Venugopalan Cheriyaveettil
Common name: Crossandra, firecracker flower, unarmed orange nail dye • Gujarati: અબોલી aboli • Hindi: प्रियदर्श priyadarsha • Kannada: ಕನಕಾಂಬರ Kanakaambara ಅಬ್ಬೊಲಿಗೆ Abbolige ಅಬ್ಬಲಿಗೆ Abbalige • Konkani: आब्बुली abbuli • Malayalam: പ്ര്യദര്ശിനീ priyadarshini • Marathi: अबोली aboli • Nepali: प्रियदर्शिनी priyadarshini • Tamil: செம்பயிரவப்பூண்டு cem-payirava-p-puntu, கனகாம்பரம் kanakamparam, பவளக்குறிஞ்சி pavala-k-kurinci, திண்டியம் tintiyam • Telugu: కనకాంబరము kanak-ambaramu
Botanical name: Crossandra infundibuliformis    Family: Acanthaceae (Acanthus family)
Synonyms: Crossandra axillaris, Crossandra coccinea, Crossandra nutans

In South India, Kanakambaram is the favourite flowers of ladies to put in their hair. It competes strongly with jasmine to adorn the south-Indian hair-do's. It is an erect, evergreen subshrub growing to 1 m with glossy, wavy-margined leaves and fan-shaped flowers, which may appear at any time throughout the year. The flowers are unusually shaped with 3 to 5 asymmetrical petals. They grow from four-sided stalked spikes, and have a tube-like 2 cm long stalk. Leaves are 6-9 x 2-4 cm, elliptic, pointed at both ends, usually crowded towards branch ends. Flower colors range from the common orange to salmon-orange or apricot, coral to red, yellow and even turquoise. The common name "firecracker flower" refers to the seed pods, which are found after the flower has dried up, and tend to "explode" when near high humidity or rainfall. The "explosion" releases the seeds onto the ground, thereby creating new seedlings.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Kannur, Kerala & Imphal, Manipur.

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