Wild flowers or weeds?

Geetha Iyer

It is the monsoon season. For many plants it is flowering time. While a number of trees bloom during the hot summer, several plants flower with the onset of rains. Not only on hill slopes or country sides, but even in our cities, there are tiny plants sprouting between the cracks of concrete footpaths bearing beautiful flowers around this time. But these wild plants in our cities go unnoticed. Caught up in our daily chores, we are only aware of the ones that grow in small pots in our balconies or those in our garden. Many horticultural varieties that we seek eagerly today were once (many, even now) plants growing in the wild. When I use the word ‘wild’ I use it as a description for all uncultivated plants, which include those found in every kind of habitats, even the urban roadsides. You don’t have to go to a hill station for wild flowers, they are there in your neighborhood. Monsoon is the time for wildflowers, unfortunately in plains these flowering plants are generally dismissed as weeds!

To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower…
William Blake

It is a paradox of our times. We fail to notice the wild plants or their beautiful flowers (growing on their own without any care from human beings), and go from one nursery to another in search of plants to grow, from one florist to another looking for flowers to gift or decorate. To our minds, plants from the roadside or footpath are not wild plants but weeds. It is a conditioned response to plants that do not serve any ‘purpose’. Worse, they are not even allowed to grow, are removed promptly. See the flowers shown here – do they deserve to be dismissed as weeds? Do they not look as beautiful or more than the hibiscus and oleander that we carefully cultivate in our gardens?

The author is a consultant for science and environment education. She can be reached at scopsowl@gmail.com.

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