Rudraksha Tree (Elaeocarpus grandiflorus)


As we photographed the flowers of the Rudraksha tree (Elaeocarpus grandiflorus Sm. 1809), also called Fairy Petticoats, Lily of the valley tree, Blue olive berry, Scrub ash or Fringe Bells, we didn´t know anything about that tropical plant, not even the name.

A few days later we went to the Doi Kham Royal Project and found the flowers depicted on a book cover, but there wasn´t any name to find. In my opinion it had to be an important tree, also in our home country Thailand, but I couldn´t find anybody who could tell me the name. I spent a whole afternoon to pore over books about tropical plants, but none of them included this plant. Last week I`ve been several times to an agricultural exhibition in Chiang Mai, North Thailand. In a small stall I found this plant again and the very friendly salesman wrote the name down for me, unfortunatly in Thai, but from now on it was just a small step to identify the plant as Elaeocarpus grandiflorus.

Rudraksha tree (Elaeocarpus grandiflorus)
© Orchids
Image: Rudraksha tree (Elaeocarpus grandiflorus)

My feeling was right, the Rudraksha tree is an important tree, as Hindus believe the seeds contain the secrets of the entire evolution of the cosmos. It´s said the plant has been born from the tears of Lord Shiva. The fruits have an intensely blue color (Blue olive berry), which changes to a light or dark brown when dried. The seeds are used for rosaries (Malas with 108 beads) and have a whole from the top to the bottom and they have 1 to 21 vertical lines running down its surface, like the longitude lines on a globe. This lines are called Mukhas and depending on the number of Mukhas the beads have a different effect and meaning. Several Elaeocarpus species are used for the production of Rudraksha beads. The Rudraksha tree (Elaeocarpus grandiflorus) is a fast growing, evergreen tree, which can reach a height of about 25 meters. The tropical tree is native from the foothills of the Himalaya throughout South and South-East Asia to Australia. Flowering season: late Winter - Autumn. The flowers have an unusual scent, reminescent of liquorice.

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