Kashmir Solai – Golden Amber from the valley
People often ask which flower is this?
Solai is a wild growing shrub in the Kashmir Valley and Western Himalayas. Its Scientific Name is Plectranthus Regosus. Also known as Peemaar, Solai Kath or Solai maunch in local language.
How is it different from other honey?
In visual terms if it crystal clear in appearance and ranging from white to Amber in colour. It has a sweet, aromatic floral undertones. When People think of Kashmir Honey, they mostly assume it to be Acacia (Sidr) Honey. Kashimir is indeed synonymous with Sidr /Acacida Honey but outshining the Sidr is Solai Honey because of the medicinal properties of the Solai Plant.
Is it Organic?
The plant itself is not cultivated for any specific fruit or grain. It grows wild, hidden in nature’s lap. The fact that, it is not commercially cultivated has, sustained this plant.
With zero Exposure to chemicals or pesticides, Bees and Butterflies thrive on its abundant nectar. Unlike other fruit yielding plants which are over exposed to chemicals, Solai plant largely went unknown to people except the herdsmen who knew its magic and recorded its benefits in folklore. Herbalists are now awakening to this plant gifts.
Why is it expensive as compared to other Honey?
This honey is only slightly expensive as compared to other mono floral honey of say, Mustard, Eucalyptus or Jamun Nectar source. The plant grows wild and in limited regions of upper hills. With urbanisation is encroaching on Solai fields, the Solai fields light up the eyes of Herdsmen or the Beekeepers. It has a short Flowering period from March- May making it extremely tricky for Bee Migration for 2 months. The Solai honey is from a single source nectar of Solai plants. If any other flora nectar is even slightly mixed – it loses its typical amber colour and aroma, and then it cannot be authentically called Solai honey.
The Honey’s gold shine and lightness combined with medicinal benefits makes it more sought after and slightly more expensive.
How do the Medicinal uses of the Solai Plant pass on to Honey?
This Plant is store house of pentacyclic triterpenoids, polyphenols, antioxidants namely Plectranthoic acid, Oleanolic acid, Betulinic acid, Rosmarinic acid ,Caffeic acid with promising potential in cosmetic & anti-aging applications under scientific investigation.
These polyphenols, oils occur extensively in flower pollen and its nectar which is Bees only source of nutrition and its produce.
The plant is used in traditional medical practices in toothache and is claimed to be effective as an anti-septic, a hypoglycaemic, an anti-Diarrheal and a bronchodilator. An extract of leaves and pollen is also used to treat hypertension, fevers, rheumatism, and toothache.
Uses & References in Folklore – Its Quadrangular twigs were lopped for bedding to repel fleas by nomadic grazier community especially ladies as seen in Chenab valley.
As per folklore, leaves fed to milch cattle yields bitter milk output with a strong bitter taste, which is presumed good for health as per rural input.