Magnificent Cosmos

Mhashevolu Rhakho

Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature. —Gerard De Nerval

Cosmos are annual flowers with colourful, daisy-like flowers that sit atop long, slender stems. Bright green fernlike foliage is the perfect complement to the daisy like flowers of cosmos, which come in shades of white, pink, yellow, or orange.Cosmos flowers are ornamental beauty, showy and blooming from the summer through fall attracting birds, bees, butterflies and humans. The name Cosmos comes from the Greek word ‘kosmos’ which means ‘harmony or ordered universe’. These flowers come in many colours and grow tall with attractive feathery leaves.

Cosmos is a member of the Compositae or Asteraceae family, just like their ‘cousins’: sunflowers, marigolds, yarrow, daisies, zinnias, lettuce and dandelions.

Cosmos has varieties of species such as Cosmos bipinnatus, Cosmos sulphureus, Cosmos caudatus, Cosmos sulphureus, Cosmos astrosanguineus etc. The varieties of Cosmos mostly found in Nagaland are, Cosmos bipinnatus (Purity-White colour), Cosmos bipinnatus (Sonata Pink) and Cosmos sulphureus (Cosmos Yellow/Orange).

Cosmos flowers are magnets for beneficial insects like lacewings, parasitic wasps, tachinid flies and hoverflies that feed on many pest insects and provide free pollination services as their open flowers provide easy access to nectar and pollen. Even in tough, hot or dry conditions with little water and poor soils with less organic matter, they seem to flower best which encourages lots of leaves at the expense of blooms. They are often seen growing along the road side in full sun, with no fertilizer in the soil and surviving on rain and dew. 

The pretty petals of Cosmos sulphureus, C bipinnatus, C caudatus or Mexican Aster are also edible and brighten up salads. One study revealed that Cosmos bipinnatus has yielded butein, known for its antioxidant activity, antimalarial, antibacterial, hepatoprotective, anthelmintic, repellent, phytoremediative and a protective effect against oxidative DNA damage. White, pink and orange cosmos flowers had the best results. Antioxidant phytochemicals were found to inhibit free radical damage and help protect the human body from diseases. Another study found both Cosmos bipinnatus and Cosmos sulphureus have properties that help protect the liver possibly due to the presence of quercetin and phenolic compounds. Additionally, Cosmos has been used in a traditional herbal remedy for various diseases such as jaundice, intermittent fever, and splenomegaly.

Cosmos are strikingly easy to grow when compared to other plants. They can stay in a state of bloom for months, which allows for a prolonged beautiful garden or scenery. When Cosmos die naturally, the dead flowers and seed will fall to the soil, cosmos seeds will germinate all by themselves when the conditions are right and hence can be grown easily from seeds as they can survive even in poor soil conditions

Cosmos are characterized by their long and slender stems. These stems have the beautiful flowers atop them that create a magnificent wave of colour. This is what gives the plants such an attractive look during the summer period.Humans aren’t the only ones who are awestruck by the radiance of cosmos flowers. Various birds, bees, and butterflies also can’t resist the allure of the flowers. Blooming for months from early summer to fall, the ravishing blossoms are borne atop sturdy stems and float above the fine, feathery foliage.

When we take the time to examine the beauty of the nature around us, we are able to see parallels within our own lives. Nature moves in a spiral as do our personal lives. Spending time in nature admiring the beauty of how nature works, we become aware of its wisdom. If we ignore the beauty of nature and spend all our time in an urban jungle, our stress levels go up and we begin to feel as if we are made out of the concrete that we see all around us.

Cosmos are annual plants and blooms only once in a year from early summer until frost. However, their beauty is a sight to see as they bloom under the blue sky, standing tall, with her slender stem and beautiful flowers atop, her leaves shimmering in the wind, dancing so gracefully.

Can there be anything more lovely than the beauty of a Cosmos?

Spare a still moment every once in a while, and take in the beauty around. Take it in with a smile, put the worries behind and let it relax your mind. Enjoy the lovely scene of a floating butterfly and buzzing bees around the flower, the graceful flight and happy tweets, Peruse the charm of the dazzling splendour and relish the loving sight under the setting sun. The magnificent glimpses of Cosmos blooming the under the warm sunshine, incandescent with the brilliant colours of white, pink and yellow in coalescence with the green grasses and vivid variety of wild flowers fill the heart with vibrant joy and extreme bliss.

The cosmos glowing and opens up under the cloudy skies, varied colours sprawling and dancing with gayas gentle breeze blows through a flower-child blossoms gives delights to the fluttering butterflies and astonished the eyes of the passer by who stand and stare at the captivating sight. How enchanting is the beauty of the Cosmos to give peace and thrills, the therapy as we walk past the garden of the flowers blooming in serenity. They bloom and fades away quicklybut her beauty holds perfection and mesmerized by her pleasant scent, the cares and the worries of the world seems long gone and gives a lasting impression of its charm. There is something infinitely healing as we contemplate on the beauty of how they bloom with no cares of the world, thriving on a rough and infertile land, on roadsides and even degraded lands. The beauty cannot be fully introspected for her beauty is fully perfected by the divine hands. 

With urbanisation and the increase in human activities in Nagaland, the nature is gradually getting destroyed driven by sheer greed and like any other natural resourcesCosmos growth has been deterred and is fading away. Nature is true and simply beautiful, so is Cosmos. If they can flourish even when no special care is given, how enticing and mesmerizing scenic view it will give, only if we can give a little more attention to this Magnificent Cosmos, the wondrous beauty will not cease. They are beautiful in every way, wonderful, exciting and needs our care. The long array of cosmos on the roadside like a pathway to heavenly bliss and down the valley where they bloom majestically, it is a sight to see, a vision of beauty, a real treat to the eyes.

Cosmos are the epitome of Self reliance and Resilience. Being a self-seeder, they have an ability to expand their own life force which reminds us to look within ourselves for inspiration and self preservation instead of relying on other people or outside influences. Removing the blooms from cosmos flowers only makes them stronger which reminds us to face challenges and losses with a loving disposition, to honour what is good in life and to emerge as stronger and more enlightened.

Cosmos is easy to grow and they provide gorgeous colours and a sight to behold with little in-season maintenance. They are incredible self-seeders and can grow well in flower beds as well as containers. They start blooming in early summer until frost. Cosmos is one of the best flowers for attracting butterflies, bees and other key pollinators and could be an attraction for the tourist as well. Besides being the best flower for pollination and medicinal benefits, the Natural beauty of the cosmos blooming can give picturesque landscape and can be a tourist attraction where people can find the beauty of blooming cosmos in nature and thus boost the tourism.

Conserving the Cosmos and tending them in-season, giving a little helping hand to grow better will definitely enhance the beauty and additional benefit nature can bestow.

The writer is an Assistant Professor in Department of Botany, St Joseph’s College (A) Jakhama