Thought of tooting my own horn a bit 🙂
This is an article I found on my namesake tree. It talks of both Kalunika and Madara, rare and revered vegetation of Sri Lanka. The excerpt below is from the article (link to full article here):
“H. Wace in 1887 had said in a report quoted by Basset, that ‘Madara’ was a rare tree which grew at Kongalamankada. The Brahamins, and Hindus had periodically visited the tree and removed the bark and leaves, for their medicinal value.
The tree, was later identified by Dr. Tremen, as ‘Cleistathus Collinus’, very rare in Ceylon, with the bark and fruit very poisonous.
The flower of the ‘Madara’ tree so uncommon, commanded the respect and admiration, due to its rarity.
The flower was also invested with divinity, so much so that in Ceylon, it was supposed to be worn by the gods and goddesses. Basset also reveals that ‘Madara’ was a native plant and not an heavenly product as supposed by the ancient people of Sri Lanka.
In the ‘one inch to the mile’ map of Ceylon the location of the ‘Madara’ trees has been marked. The map indicates the existence of two ‘Madara’ trees. But the exact location is difficult to find without further guidance, according to the ‘Romantic Ceylon’.
Thus ‘Madara’ flower seems very much indigenous to Sri Lanka and not a ‘celestial flower’ as mentioned in some Sinhala literature.
The flower ‘Madara’, probably due to its rarity, has been used by writers as a divine flower, meant exclusively to be worn by the gods and goddesses.
Referring to the attitude of the natives to the two rare trees in Sri Lanka, Basset wrote in 1929, “the desire to see the unique – a human ambition that irresistibly stirs many people to activity – has so far inspired very few investigators to visit the only ‘Madara’ tree, in Ceylon,” at the time.
It might indeed be possible for these rare trees, ‘Kalunika’ and ‘Madara’ to be still found in the thick jungles of the island, following the directions of the research undertaken by the colonial explorers of the 18th and 19th centuries, if pursued along the same lines taken by them in the not too distant past.”