Shola Pith Plant
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Shola Pith Plant
P Native Photo: Aarti Khale
Common name: Shola Pith Plant, Sholapith Plant • Bengali: শোলা Shola • Hindi: सोला Sola • Kannada: ಅಲಗು Alagu, ಅಲಗಿನಗಿಡ Alagina gida • Malayalam: Neerkadasam, Ponguchedi • Nepali: धोन्दिया Dhondiya • Oriya: ସୋଲ Sola • Tamil: Netti
Botanical name: Aeschynomene aspera    Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
Synonyms: Aeschynomene indica var. aspera, Aeschynomene aquatica

Shola Pith Plant is a marshy herb or shrub 1-2.5 m tall; stem spongy, pith-like, often 1.5 cm or more in diameter. Leaves are 7-15 cm long, compound, with stalkless leaflets 25-50 pairs, 0.6-1 x 0.1-0.2 cm, linear-oblong, base blunt, oblique, margins ciliolate, tip blunt, apiculate. Flowers are borne in 2-4-flowered racemes in leaf-axils, up to 5 cm long. Flowers are 1.5-2 cm long, yellow; standard petal about 1.8 x 1.5 cm; wings about 8 x 4 mm; keels 1.8 x 0.8 cm, hairy outside. Sepal-cup is 5-7 mm long, bristly. Staminal sheath is up to 7 mm long; anthers about 2 mm long, ovoid. Ovary is up to 1 cm long, woolly; ovules many; style to 6 mm long. Pods are 5-7 x 0.7-0.8 cm, compressed, 4-8-jointed, indented along both margins, dark brown. Seeds 5-6 x 3-4 mm, kidney-shaped, black. Shola Pith Plant is found in the Indian Subcontinent, SE Asia to Australia. It is also found in Tropical Himalaya, from Kashmir to NE India, at altitudes of 200-1300 m. Sholapith is a dried milky-white spongy stem of this plant. It can be pressed and shaped into objects of art, or for practical use. It is the "pith" used for pith helmets, so giving them their name. Flowering: August-December.

Identification credit: Prabhu Kumar Km, Manoranjan Paramanik Photographed in Bangalore, Karnataka & Purulia, West Bengal.

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