The asymmetric flowers of ‘Koranti’ (Barleria prionitis) brighten the hedges of India throughout the winter season. In many places they are garden escapes and fill entire ditches or take over an untended garden,filling it with it’s happy yellow flowers.
One of the reasons why, it was planted around homesteads is because Barleria contains some phytochemicals that are good for teeth and in Ayurveda, the ancient system of Indian medicine, it is valued as a medicinal plant used for treating gingivitis. Infact, it’s name in Sanskrit is ‘Vajra-danti’ , which means ‘Teeth like thunderbolt’…the ancient herbalists sure knew how to advertise their stuff. Even today there are herbal toothpastes of that name and brands like Vicco- Vajradanti (that has a popular jingle ) also incorporates extracts of Barleria prionitis in their product.
However, few people, nowadays, are aware of their medicinal values or associate them with the toothpaste jingle. The plants are often chucked out of gardens to be replaced by more fashionable blooms , when they merrily march out and colonise the ditches and ruins.