A Living Portrait of India
Vrikshayurveda or the science of plants is another achievement of the ancients, based on sound sense and practical knowledge. The Brihatsamhita of Varamahira devotes a chapter to the subject. One passage reads - 'Prantacchayavinirmukta na manojna jalasayh, yasmadato jalaprantesvaramanviniveseyet.' The gist is that parks and gardens are best situated along lakes and rivers. Another recommends mellow soil for plants, and suggests a means of acquiring this - 'Mrdui bhuh sarva-vrksanam hita tasyam tilan vapet, Puspitamstamsca mrdniyat karmaitat prathamam bhuvah.' Sesanum (tila) seeds should be planted and later, the flowering plant trampled into the soil. There is a verse dealing with the ideal season and stage of growth for cuttings - 'Ajatasakhan sisire Jatasakhan himagama, varsagame ca suskandha yathadiksthan praropayet' i.e. Mid-January to mid-March (the season of dews) is the season for making cuttings of plants that have not yet flowered or spread their branches. The plants with branches should be prepared for cuttings in the season of the mists, i.e, Winter (mid-November to mid-January), while those with well-grown branches should be transplanted during the rainy season. Also, the clones should be planted or mounted facing the same direction as they did on the parent tree. A medicament for the cloning material - "Ghrtosiralaksaudravidangaksiragomayaih amulaskandhaliptanam sankramananropanam.' The berries of sesanum, andropogon, and Embelia ribes (vidanga) together with cowdung are to be formed a paste of and applied. (This was a protection against fungal and other diseases). The chapter also suggests a way to ensure healthy germination and later fructification of the seed - the repeated application of oil followed by the drying of the seed in good sunlight. The oils recommended are of Alangium hexapetalum (Angola) or Cordia myxa (Slesmataka).