A Conundrum:Stellata or nouchali?

Our nation is never free of problems of grave import.

The latest concerns the national flower. Some seem to believe that it is ‘Nymphaea stellata’ while others lean towards ‘nouchali’. The matter is of such gravity that a ten-member committee of experts, chaired by no less a person than the Secretary, Ministry of Environment has been appointed to resolve the matter.

The problem seems to be (and would you believe it!) that at some official functions, attended by even the biggest wigs, the wrong ‘Manel’ gets into the table decor! How terrible!

Perhaps it is even astrologically inauspicious. In any case, quite intolerable and hence the high-powered Committee!

Would it not be terrible, if after due and ponderous deliberation, they discover that ‘stellata’ and ‘nouchali’ are actually synonyms for one and the same plant! (An authoritative book that I have access to, seems to believe so).

It is quite common for different lines of the same species to have flowers of different colours, as any amateur gardener will know! They are sometimes called ‘varieties’ or ‘cultivars’. So, whether the ‘manel’ is light (nil) or deep blue (thadha nil), although it may be of national or emotional consequence, it is of no botanical significance! A ‘manel’ is, at the end of the day, apparently, a ‘manel’!

No matter that the exchequer may incur substantial expenses for the meetings of the committee. We must be thankful that it stopped short of appointing a Parliamentary Select Committee (All Party, course), if not a Ministerial Sub-Committee to resolve this important issue. Hopefully, a study trip to Kew (not Slave Island, but UK) will not be deemed necessary for an acceptable outcome.

 Would not our Botanical Gardens (and Herbarium) at Peradeniya be able to help in deciding on this massive issue?

‘Nettle Grub’

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