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Common Name : Scarlet Mallow     -       Scientific Name : Pentapetes phoenicea (Malvaceae)       -       Other Name : Midday Flower (E), Bandu-vada (S)
Pallekandal Pitiya
Pallekandal Pitiya

This is an indigenous dry lowland species that grows in swamps, marshy areas, paddy fields and grassy bunds of tanks. Other than in Sri Lanka this species is reported from India, Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, Indo-China, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Australia and New Guinea.

The conservation status of the species under reference is regarded as “Least Concerned” (National Red List 2012).
The fruits and the roots of this species are used in India as an herbal remedy to treat Fever, skin deceases and even snake bite. Indian literature often draws similarity between the striking red colour of these flowers and female lips.

I have observed and photographed the beautiful flowers of this species in open moist fields, in the northern parts of the country, including Mannar, Kilinochchi and Vidaththalthivu during the months of January and February. They are never found in large communities. A few plants will bloom in suitable places after the rains. The striking red colour of the flowers among other green herbage makes it easy for any one with an interest in wild flowers to detect it even from a fair distance. This species is refereed to as the Midday flower and Noon flower as the flowers will only open during midday. 

In Wilpattu I observed these flowers at Pallekandal Pitiya in January where the filed contained a fair amount of water after the rains. By end February there was no trace of these flowers as the flied had dried up.