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Tagar/Chandni/ Tabernaemontana divaricata

The beauty of a small tree that can often be shaped into a bushy shrub or hedge and which can get loaded with tiny white flowers in profusion - is difficult to describe in mere words.  One has to see the Tagar or Chandani plant to believe its ethereal loveliness.  The flowers have a lovely pinwheel shape, because of which it has also been referred to as the Swastika plant.  

A native of the Indian sub-continent, China, and SE Asia, this plant also goes by the aliases of Crepe Jasmine, Moonbeam, Carnation of India, and Milk Flower - the last because it yields a milky sap. Flowering all year round, this plant is a universal favorite of gardeners and horticulturists all over India. Apart from the beauty of the flowers, its leaves look attractive, too - they are medium-sized, glossy dark green, and pointed. On the rare occasion when the plant is out of flowers, these exquisite foliage do put up a good show.

Crepe Jasmine is an outdoor plant. It needs full 6-8 hours of sunlight, well-drained soil, and rich organic nutrition. It should be watered daily, even though water-logged conditions and over-watering are to be strictly avoided. Crepe Jasmine grows with the utmost ease from cuttings. Apart from being decorative, they make good hedge plants also as they are not eaten by cattle. They also yield themselves with ease to making bonsais out of them.

Horticultural varieties of Crepe Jasmine include double-petal Chandani and mini or dwarf tagar. The mini or dwarf tagar plant has been used more popularly as a hedge plant than the original species because of the ease of pruning and maintenance. 

Fun Fact -

Tagar is a rich source of alkaloids and other important chemicals, which have been used as folk medicine. Research shows that Tagar extract has anti-tumor, anti-oxidant, and anti-infection activities.

Ecologically speaking, the caterpillar of the Oleander Hawk Moth has been known to feed on the leaves of Tabernaemontana divaricata.


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