Flowers that Heal Sri Lanka’s countryside and gardens are filled with a variety of aromatic flowers employed in Ayurveda. For instance, at Ayurveda resorts these flowers form the basis of sedative baths and herbal pillows. Asoka (Saraca indica) Asoka is an evergreen tree with orange flowers that perfume the night. It is also known as the “sorrowless tree”, derived from the Sanskrit word for asoka, which means “no grief”. Ayurveda physicians in Sri Lanka prescribe asoka flowers for illnesses such as uterine haemorrhage and haemorrhagic dysentery. Dried asoka flowers are used to treat diabetes. Asoka is also effective in gynaecological disorders. Sapumal (Michellia champaca) Sapumal is called the “joy perfume tree”, for on humid nights the scent of the flowers can be enjoyed some distance away. Sapumal is important as the flowers are used for religious occasions in Sri Lanka. The flowers are carminative, antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, and are used for stomach ailments. An ointment is used for rheumatism and headaches. Moreover, this oil, rubbed on the abdomen, relieves flatulence. Sepalika (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis) Sepalika, also known as “coral jasmine, is a popular garden flower with white petals that emits a pleasant fragrance. Some use dried flowers for herbal pillows to aid sound sleep. Sepalika is useful in children’s constipation and the treatment of rheumatism. Nyctanthes means “night-flowering”, for Sepalika flowers bloom at night and fall to the ground by sunrise. Hence the tree has acquired the title “the night-flowering jasmine”. During the day the plant loses its fragrance, therefore sepalika is also known as the “tree of sorrow”. Ratmal (Ixora coccinea) Ratmal has an evergreen foliage and bright red to orange blooms – hence its name “flame of the woods” that make it a favourite for hedge planting. It has several colours: red, white, pink and yellow. Ratmal is highly regarded by Ayurveda physicians. The root of the tree is believed to be a remedy for dysentery. It is also good for weak stomachs and the treatment of catarrh in children. Shoe Flower (Hibiscus rosa sinensis) Also known as vadamal or sapattumal in Sinhala - sapattu means “shoe”. Shoe flower is prescribed for uterine haemorrhage and excessive menstruation. The buds are used to treat children’s diseases. It is also used to treat premature hair loss by mixing the juice of the fresh petals and olive oil and boiling it until the water has evaporated. This mixture is then applied to the scalp. Nil Mahanel (Nymphese stelleta) Nil mahanel is the national flower of Sri Lanka. Clusters swaying gracefully above shimmering waters create a stunning display on Sri Lankan ponds, lakes, and rivers. Large green leaves cradle the almondshaped purple petals of this glorious flower. It is a favourite offering at Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The flower is prized for its psychological healing properties. It is said that just observing nil mahanel helps to soothe nerves andcreate stillness in an agitated mind. A bouquet is prescribed by psychiatrists for individuals experiencing states of trauma. The flower is also used in Ayurveda herbal baths. Picchamal (Jasminum grandiflorum) Picchamal flowers are crushed and applied to the breasts of a nursing mother to check if an abscess is developing. The essential oil extracted from the flowers is a deodorant. Spanish jasmine known as Saman picchamal is widely used to treat eye diseases. Dried flowers are used as a pillow for headaches and catarrh. Ehela (Cassia fistula) When in bloom, ehela flowers have long sprigs of light yellow flowers, attractive to bees and butterflies. In English the tree is called “Golden Shower” and in Sanskrit raja taru, meaning “Royal Tree”. Ehela flowers are boiled and given as a purgative for children and expectant mothers. The flowers are made into pulp and applied around the navel of children suffering from flatulence. Ehela flowers are also used to treat skin diseases and ringworm. Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera or Nymphaea lotus) Lotus flowers, associated with Buddhism in Sri Lanka, are offered in temples and pilgrim sites throughout the island. Lotus flowers are dried and used in herbal pillows and used in herbal baths. Ranawara (Cassea auriculata) Ranawera is a herb with a light yellow flower that soothes the eye. Ranawera flowers are dried and made into a delicious tea, also referred to as “Matara tea”, which helps to relieve stress and cools the body. Ranawara flowers are used in the treatment of diseases of the urinary organs, constipation and diabetes. In areas like Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, Ranawara flowers are made into a drink and used as a remedy for malaria. Plumeria (common name frangipani) (Plumeria alba or Plumeria rubra) Plumeria, commonly known as araliya, a healing flower for Sri Lankans, is one of the most widely used blossoms in the island. The primary reason for its popularity is its association with Buddhist culture. Plumeria is said to have a cleansing effect on the body and is used as talc. A perfume is made from plumeria as well. It is used in Ayurveda for herbal flower baths.