Some messages about Andu-Kola

Eryngium foetidum (saw-tooth coriander)

- Andu-kola plant

Message from Deepthi
Dear Prof.Dharmawardene,
I am able to give you some information about andu kola.
My mother had an abundance of the plants growing on a land belonging to us in the Sabaragamuwa Province. She had got a few plants planted as there was a cobra who used to 'drop in' from the adjoining paddy fields once in a way. After the anduna was planted the cobra stopped its visits. Here in Colombo where my office is located is also serpent infested and my mother gave me several well-grown anduna plants to place both in and outside the premises. Unfortunately, none of the plants survived. A friend residing in Maharagama was also unable to sustain the plant I gave her. This led me to wonder whether the lack of constant moisture could be the reason as in Sabaragamuwa it rains virtually daily.
However I was told that the plant thrives very well at another location close to my office.It is at a day-care centre for poor children run by nuns. The property being close to a canal, they were having a big problem with serpents. Thereafter, the sister-in-charge who hails from Kegalle had got some anduna plants planted around the premises. She got rid of the serpents. After I heard this story from her I am convinced that the serpents had migrated to my area!
Hopefully I should be able to get you a few photographs. My mother is an amateur horticulturist and she pointed out to me how the plant spreads on its own. The seeds scatter far and wide and given the right conditions the plant grows naturally. What repels the cobra is the strong odour which emanates from the leaves. However, the plant is repulsive only to cobras as I found out the hard way.

Message from Ven. Pinikahane Maithree
What I know personally is this. When I was small while residing in Udakotuwa temple, Bentota, a person from Balapitiya area gave a plant to my Loku hamuduruwo (Ven Opatha Vimalasiri) saying this is Andukola. So Lokuhamuduruwo planted it under the Ehela tree which was just infront of our temple. I watered and looked after it just as any other flower plant. It grew up nicely. a small bush roughly foot in height, (with) tender leaves like binkohomba. It was not dark green. The most important fact is when I rolled those leaves between my palms, it smelled very very bad.
I have never heard (it as) 'Andunkola', but we called it Andukola.
I need to say one more thing , next to that plant we planted a Kalunika plant too. It was brought by Thomas Ayya, who had bullock carts that time. It is also not a big plant. The leaves had a mixed colour of purple, pale green and very light black.

Message from Janaka Perera Andu Kola is the correct word. The other word Andun - I was told - is derived from Anduna which is used by pena karayas (traditional clairvoyants). Anduna is a saucer on which charmed oil or some other substance is rubbed after which joss sticks lighted in front of it. Thereafter the clairvoyant chants a mantra invoking the spirit of the legendary ape Hanuma (of Ramayana fame) to ask for help in finding a lost person or object. Then Hanuma supposedly appears on the saucer which is propped up like a mirror.

Note from CDW The place name "Pinikahana" itself is very interesting, and is derived from Pini-Gahana. It is the name of a beautiful hamlet near Pitigala (southern province), where dew is always formed and found like glittering pearls. The Udakotuva temple, Bentota, referred to is part of the three ancient temples, of which the Yaathramulle Temple had the learned monk who taught Pali to Rhys Davis, Wilhelm Geiger and others. The classical name for Bentota is Bemthota, from the Sanskrit: "Bheema-theetha". Yaathramulla was the Ferry point for crossing the bem ganga (Benthara ganaga) prior to the construction of bridges in the British era.
We thank Prof. Samarakoon, K.B.Hippola, Prof. Gerald Peiris, R.Kulatilleke, and many others for comments and inputs. Currently, we have no well established Sinhala name for Ocinum gratissimum of the Maduruthala family except for a tentative name from B. Cough's 19th century Sinhala-English dictionary.