Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Triphasia trifolia (Burm.f.) P. Wils. in Torreya 9: 33. 1909. Limonia trifolia Burm. f., Fl. Ind. 103. 1768. L. trifoliolata L., Mant. Pl. Alt. 237. 1771. Triphasia aumntiola Lour., Fl. Cochinch. 152. 1790; Gamble, Fl. Pres. Madras 156. 1915. T. trifoliolata (L.) DC., Prodr. 1: 536. 1824; Hook. f., Fl. Brit. India 1: 507. 1875.

Beng. & Hindi: Cheeninarangi; Kan.: Aramaralu, Kadusirinimbu; Mar.: Chin-Ke-limbu.

Erect or straggling shrubs; evergreen; branches cylindric, armed with paired spines in leaf axils; bark green, lenticellate. Leaves trifoliolate; petioles short, wingless, 3 - 5 mm long; leaflets variable in size; terminal one much larger, 2 - 5 x 1.5 - 2 cm; lateral ones smaller, 1 - 2 x 0.5 - 1 cm, ovate-elliptic, cuneate at base, rounded and emarginate at apex, crenulate along margins, dark green and glossy above, light greenish beneath, pellucid-punctate, glabrous; mid- and lateral nerves inconspicuous; petiolules short, to 2 mm long. Flowers solitary or, 2 or 3, axillary, cylindric in bud, 3-merous, fragrant. Sepals 3, ovate, obtuse, small, cilioiate, green. Petals 3, linear-oblong, obtuse, 8 - 12 x ca 4 mm, glandular, glabrous, white. Stamens 6, subequal; filaments linear, 7 - 9 mm long, glabrous; anthers oblong, ca 2 mm long. Disk annular, fleshy, white. Ovary ovoid, ca 2 mm long, glabrous, 3-locular with one ovule in each locule; style slender, deciduous; stigma capitate, 3-lobed, glandular. Berries subglobose or ellipsoid-ovoid, ca 1 cm long, dull reddish when ripe; pericarp glandular; seeds 1 - 3, green, embedded in a whitish, mucilaginous pulp.

Distrib. Probably a native of S. E. Asia and widely cultivated in gardens in many tropical and subtropical countries. In India it is frequently cultivated and naturalized on the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and probably also in S. India.

Notes. T. trifolia is an excellent garden plant due to its dark green and glossy foliage and reddish berries. It is often grown as a hedge plant. Chinese use the berries for making pickles. Wood is useful in making tool-handles and other small articles.

Rangaswami and Ranganathan (in Curr. Sci. 15: 76 - 77. 1964) reported the occurrence of uni-or bifoliolate leaves and transition of uni-to trifoliolate leaves in T. trifolia based on their observations on certain plants met with on the Palani hills (Tamil Nadu). They do not seem to have preserved any voucher specimens. But their illustration of leaf samples show a distinctly winged petiole characteristic of Pleiospermium alarum, a species besides being common on the Palani hills also exhibits leafpolymorphism (tri-bi-and unifoliolate leaves on the same plant) of the kind reported by the said authors.

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