Fruits and Flowers
India is a continent with every variety of climate, soil, and elevation, and the name of its fruits and flowers is legion. Merely to give a list of their names would take a great deal more space than is allowed for this essay. It is therefore possible only to mention a few of the best known and most characteristic.
The queen of Indian fruits is undoubtedly the mango, with its bright yellow and pulpy flesh, and peculiar sweet taste. Coming as it does in the hot season, it is very welcome, and is eaten largely by all. It is, however, a rather bilious fruit, and produces sickness if eaten in too large quantities; but its bad effects can be prevented by drinking milk before eating. A very popular fruit is the humble plantain or banana (Kela). It is very nutritious, and forms a good food by itself: and it has no harmful effects. In the hot weather, India produces many varieties of melons, some of which are rather tasteless and watery, but some, especially the little rose-scented Lucknow melons, are sweet and delicious. It is a welcome fruit in the heat, but should be avoided if cholera is about. The better varieties of loquat are pleasant eating; but the common loquat is a rather insipid and unsatisfactory fruit. Some people like custard apples, but others dislike them as being rather sickly; while the jack-fruit, though eaten by the poor, is a coarse and tasteless thing. Good oranges are grown with great success in North India, and a very large and sweet variety of raspberries in the South. Peaches, apricots and plums, and in the hills apples, pears, cherries, and strawberries, are also common; but they are mostly importations from Europe.
As to flowers, they are in abundance. Many English flowers are found in gardens, but I will refer only to a few of the characteristic Indian flowering trees. Many of the most beautiful are noted for their strong and sweet perfume, as well as their beauty. In March, the air is laden with the sweet heavy scent of the white, waxen Orange blossoms. The yellow and white Jasmine is noted for its perfume; as well as yellow-flowered Champack, the white and lilac blooms of the Nim tree, and the red drooped flowers of the Rangoon creeper. For gorgeous beauty, there is nothing to beat the scarlet blaze of the Flame of the Forest; and the common Morning Glory creeper will cover a house with its deliciously fresh blue flowers. Finally, because, of its romantic and poetic associations, mention must be made of the Lotus flower.