By Mathushiya Pirabaharan and Sambavi Vethanathan
Gloriosa lily (காந்தள் – Kaanthal / கார்திகைப் பூ – Karthigai poo) is one of the 12 species belonging to the plant family Colvhivacaceae. They grow naturally in tropical areas of South Africa and Asia, in addition to Australia. The flower is also better known as “the flame lily”. The botanical name is Liliacea Glory lily or Gloriosa superba. Various preparations of the plant are used in traditional medicine in a variety of cultures in Africa and India.
Gloriosa lily changes colours and is therefore described by two Tamil names: Ven-Karnthal; வெண்காந்தள் (white), and Chenk-Karnthal; செங்காந்தள் (Red). The petals are reflexed back at the tip and wavy-edged. After full bloom, the flower will remain fresh for seven days. The colours of the petals change from initial green to whitish-yellow to yellow, then reddish yellow to scarlet, fading to red. The flower attracts attention due to its unique colour. When the tuber is split, the ones with shoots are called Aan-Karnthal; ஆண் காந்தள் (male), and ones without are called Penn-Karnathal; பெண் காந்தள் (female).
Gloriosa lily (காந்தள் / கார்த்திகைப்பூ) is the national flower of Tamil Eelam.
Gloriosa lily was chosen as the national flower of the Tamil Eelam, because the flower consists of the colour spectrum of the flag of the Tamil Eelam. The flower also blooms in our homeland in November, the month we mark and commemorate the martyrs from the struggle for freedom in the Tamil Eelam. Gloriosa lily is used to respect the heroes who sacrificed their lives for Tamil Eelam.
The administrative officials of Tamil Eelam encouraged the people of Tamil Eelam to use this flower on all national occasions. They also encouraged the cultivation of this flower in private homes, public places, workplaces, teaching areas and several places around the Tamil Eelam.
Gloriosa superba is the national flower of Zimbabwe. A diamond brooch shaped like a gloriosa was given to Queen Elizabeth II, of Southern Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe), when she visited the country in 1947. It is also the state flower of Tamil Nadu in India.