COMMON NAME: Spiral ceropegia
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ceropegia spiralis
Pilachi Khantudi (Marathi)
DISTRIBUTION: Endemic to southern peninsular India
Ceropegias are (temporarily) insect-trapping plants found in Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Canary and Pacific Islands. There are almost 200 different species across the world, of which 50 are found in India. 28 of these can be found only in India’s southern peninsular—one of which is the spiral ceropegia.
The flowers of the various kinds of ceropegia have the same general construction, but with an array of different colours and shapes. This general shape helps to attract and temporarily trap its main pollinating agents: flies.
Study the three photographs together: all start with a cage-like structure at the top (which in fact are the flowers’ petals), through which the fly enters. Next comes a long, tube-like neck— once the fly falls down the tube, it’s difficult for it to climb back out. Instead, it is trapped for a while in the bulb of the flower, where pollen becomes attached to its body. Finally, the petals turn downward, allowing the fly to escape, carrying pollen along with it to the next flower.
These are some other ceropegias endemic to peninsular India.
(Left) Ceropegia intermedia, Intermediate ceropegia
(Right) Ceropegia juncea, known as the Leafless goglet flower
(Above) Compare this photo to the drawing in your book. Here, the flower’s spiral is wound tightly, and will gradually loosen to take the form in the drawing.
© All images on this page are the work and property of Prasanjeet Yadav