Desert Cotton
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Desert Cotton
P Native Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Desert Cotton, Kapok bush, Pillow-weed, snow bush • Gujarati: બૂર bour • Hindi: सफेद बूई safed bui • Kachchhi: બૂર bour • Kannada: ದೊಡ್ಡ ಹಿಂಡಿ ಗಿಡ dodda hindi gida • Marathi: कल kal, खुल khul • Rajasthani: बूई bui • Tamil: சிமிலி cimili, பெரியபூளை periya-pulai • Telugu: మగబీర magabira, పెద్ద పిండి pedda pindi, పిండి కొండ pindi konda Source: Names of Plants in India
Botanical name: Aerva javanica    Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth family)
Synonyms: Aerva ovata, Aerva persica, Aerva tomentosa

Desert Cotton is a perennial semi-shrubby plant growing in tropical and subtropical dry areas. It is both erect and spreading, grows up to a height of 1.5 m high, and is covered with densely matted hairs on stems and leaves. It is much-branched, with vigorous round stems that are woody at the base, and a dark stout taproot. It has numerous leaves, ovate to lanceshaped, 1-2 x 4-7.5 cm, alternate and white to grey. The flowers are small and whitish and arranged in dense, woolly at branch-ends panicles. This herb is deep rooted, and is used as soil binder in desert reclamation. It has a native distribution incorporating much of Africa (including Madagascar), and the south-west and south of Asia.
Medicinal uses: In Pakistan, it is used as a purgative, antidiarrheal and anthelmintic medicine in cattle. In India, boiled seeds are fed to animals suffering from foot and mouth disease. In Ethiopia, roots are used to treat ophthalmic infection in goats.

Identification credit: Prashant Awale, Siddarth Machado Photographed near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan & Guttur, Andhra Pradesh.

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