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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Tamil Tigers adopt poisonous lily
By Anna Horsbrugh-Porter
BBC correspondent in Colombo

The gloriosa lily and the Tiger logo
The lily has the same colours as the Tiger flag
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have adopted a poisonous lily as their official flower.

They are urging people in the north and east of the island - the Tamil Tiger stronghold - to grow the flower in their homes.

They want people to wear the karthigaipoo, or gloriosa lily, on occasions of national significance.

The Tigers have fought a near 30-year campaign for Tamil self-determination in the north and east of the island.

Deadly poison

The gloriosa is a yellow and red flower with tendril-like petals, which blooms mainly in the rebel-held areas.

Its colours are the same as those of the Tamil Tiger flag - which has a picture of a roaring tiger in front of a crossed pair of rifles encircled by a round of bullets.

This particular lily also shares another characteristic with the Tamil Tiger fighters - it is deadly poisonous and eating any part of the flower, vine or root can cause death.

It is used by those wishing to commit suicide.

Many Tamil Tiger fighters wear a cyanide capsule around their neck to avoid being captured alive by the Sri Lankan army.

TamilNet, the pro-rebel website, says the organisation wants residents of the north and east to grow what it is calling its national flower in homes, business premises and educational institutions.

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