इह हि नववसन्ते मञ्जरीरेणुपुञ्जच्छुरणधवलदेहा बद्धहेलं सरन्ति।
तरलमलिसमूहा हारिहुंकारिकण्ठा बहलपरिमलालीसुन्दरं सिन्दुवारम्॥
Iha hi nava-vasante manjarī-reṇu-punja-cchuraṇa-dhavala-dehā baddha-helaṃ saranti |
Taralam ali-samūhā hāri-huṃkāri-kaṇṭhā bahala-parimalālī-sundaraṃ sinduvāram ||
Here in early vasanta swarms of bees emitting an irresistible humming sound, their white bodies strewing a mass of flower dust, pursue the tremulous sinduvāra, alluring with its many drifting fragrances.
Verse 88 of the vasanta section in the Subhāṣītaratnabhaṇḍāgaram
The sinduvāra makes few conspicuous appearances in poetry. Where it does, it is chiefly for its white colour and it tends to be pictured overhanging a lake or river, true to life. Two of its names, as below, suggest that it is connected to Indra and his wife.
Names and Botanical Identification
The Amarakośa gives several synonyms for the sinduvāra: sinduka, indra-surasa (‘sweet to Indra’), nirguṇḍī, indrāṇikā (‘belonging to Indrāṇī’ – Indrāṇī is a name for Indra’s wife). Variations of these include sindhuvāra, sinduvāraka, surasa, nirguṇṭī and indrāṇī.
In modern Indian languages it goes by the names of: saphed saṃhālū (Hindi); nīrnocci and cirunocci (Tamil) and nocci, veṇnocci (Malayalam). Its English name, the three-leaved chaste tree, suggests a story but whether this is related to the Indian tradition or not I don’t know.
Monier Williams identifies the plant as vitex negundo. Pandanus says it is the vitex trifolia which, as per its description has blue-purple flowers not white:
‘An aromatic shrub growing throughout India mainly along water courses, leaves simple to trifoliate, flowers light blue to purple in terminal panicled cymes, fruits globose drupes, purplish black when ripe.’
The negundo seems more likely as it has white flowers. The image above is of a vitex negundo; it comes from the FRLHT in Bangalore – see here for an article on this institute.