Kepula, Kuntala, Nerala etc. are berry shrubs/tree end in suffix -la. Kepula is a wild shrub bearing red colored flowers and berries, common in humid country sides. It is also known as ‘Jungle flame Ixora'(Botanical name: Ixora coccinea Linn)
There is also an interior village named Kepu in Bantvala taluk.
‘Kepu’ (derived from English ‘cap’)nowadays also means small circular firecracker or a device used in blasting.
The red berries of the native shrub Kepula are edible; rural children use the berries as a prank bullet in native toys known as ‘Kepulabedi’ or ‘Petlu’, which is a small flute-shaped bamboo reed with openings on both sides.
A kepula berry or a ‘petlukayi’ is pushed to top side of this ‘bedi’ (musket/gun) by a stick (close-fitting shaft) and another berry is again pushed to shoot out the first berry with a bang.(Tulu Nighantu,p.921).The prank bullet or ‘petlukai’ is a small berrylike fruit, borne by a tree with with odd smelling jasmine-like white flowers (‘kelenji tappuda mara’) or other similar berry/seed bearing shrubs like ‘allimar’ etc.
It is a common flowering shrub native to Southern India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It has become one of the most popular flowering shrubs in South Florida gardens and landscapes. It is the national flower of Suriname.
Common Names for Kepula in other Languages
Sanskrit: Bandhuka, Raktaka
Malayalam: Thetti, Techi
Tamil: Sinduram, Thetti
Telugu: Koranan, Mankana
Cultivation and Uses
Although there are around 500 species in the genus Ixora, only a handful are commonly cultivated, and the common name, Ixora, is usually used for I. coccinea. I. coccinea is used in warm climates for hedges and screens, foundation plantings, massed in flowering beds, or grown as a specimen shrub or small tree. In cooler climate, it is grown in a greenhouse or as a potted house plant requiring bright light. I. coccinea is also grown in containers, looking very distinguished as a patio or poolside plant. This tight, compact shrub is much branched and tolerates hard pruning, making it ideal for formal hedges, although it is at its best when not sheared.
There are numerous named cultivars differing in flower color (yellow, pink, orange) and plant size. Several popular cultivars are dwarfs, usually staying under 3 feet (0.91 m) in height. Nora Grant is a popular dwarf and Super King is a popular hybrid with much larger flower clusters. Many new cultivars and hybrids of I. coccinea have come to market in the last couple of decades, leading to a resurgence in popularity for the beautiful flame-of-the-woods.
The flowers, leaves, roots, and the stem are used to treat various ailments in the Indian traditional system of medicine, the Ayurveda, and in various folk medicines, in traditional Indian medicine the fusion of juice leaves and the fruit of Ixora coccinea is used to care for dysentery, ulcers and gonorrhea. Commercially important medicinal plant, used in Ayurveda. All parts including flower, leaves and root are taken for various medicinal preparations for skin disease, Diabetes etc.
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