In November last year while at Bangalore we were introduced to a ‘Plant’ stating that it’s leaves have many health benefits. We were given a few leaves to taste, the leaves that you can see in the above pictures. The name of the plant was mentioned as Sanjeevini. But this name turned out to be wrong.
On returning to Hyderabad I found that Sanjeevini (Selaginella bryopteris) is totally a different plant with entirely different type of leaves. Then using the above photographs and with detailed description of the leaves I made enquires to find out the name of the plant; among friends and by seeking help over internet, through gardening sites like that of Walter Reeves and over facebook. I got some answers, which on verification did not match the leaf description or they were not medicinal plants. Some of the internet sites wanted the pictures of the plant which I could not furnish. This quest for knowing the name and for procuring the plant continued for almost seven months! Then ultimately the mystery got sorted out in the month of May this year when our daughter-in-law, Dr. Lavanya found it at Pragathi Resorts, Hyderabad. She bought a sapling for us which has now grown into a big plant (to its full size) and with a stem from it we have grown another plant. Both these lovely plants you can see in the pictures below. Not only lovely; they are also precious, because of the efforts we have put in to procure the mother plant!
The Resort people called it Insulin plant. On verifying I found that it is right, as it is mostly known by that name in our country. I now know that elsewhere in the world it is commonly known as Fiery Costus and Spiral Flag or Spiral Ginger, while its botanical name is Chamaecostus cuspidatus. The plant is called Fiery Costus because its 2-inch flowers are brilliant fiery orange. And it is called Spiral Flag or Spiral Ginger because its leaves are spirally arranged around the dark red stem, forming attractive arching clumps, arising right from underground rootstocks.
And coming to its medicinal value, it is established that consumption of the leaves, fresh or dry, helps in lowering the blood glucose levels, as diabetics who consumed the leaves of this plant reported a fall in their blood glucose levels! These leaves are said to be extensively used in Ayurvedic medicines.