03 June 2015

Flowering Trees in India

(35P) FLAME-OF-THE-FOREST.  [Butea monosperma (Lamarck) Taubert] A slow-growing tree seldom reaching a height of 15 meters, the frost-hardy, drought-resistant Flame-of-the-forest occurs throughout India and is considered useful for reclaiming saline lands. By February, it sheds its trifoliate, hard, leathery leaves. It announces the advent of hot weather by bursting into a blaze of flowers, produced on great, stiff clusters. The flame-orange, red or vermilion petals are covered with soft hair that glimmer in sunlight, contrasting vividly with the jet-black or bottle-green velvety sepals. One of the few hosts on which the lacinsect can be reared, it also yields a ruby-coloured gum used in tanning leather. The seed is valvued as an anthelminthic.

(50P) CRATEVA (Crateva nurvala Buchanan-Hamilton). A moderate-sized tree attaining a height of over 15 meters, it is named after cratevas (Krateuas), a Greek naturalist and physician of the 1st Century B.C. Common throughout India, the much-branched tree with a head of glossy trifoliate leaves looks very majestic when in full bloom from March to May (earlier in the South). The beauty of the flowers is enhanced by a burst of prominent purplish-violet stamens that slowly turn yellow. The bark of the tree is reported to be used as a demulcent, antipyretic, sedative, alterative and tonic.

(Re1.00) GOLDEN SHOWER (Cassia fistula Linnaeus). When most flowers are past their spring-time best, the Golden Shower decides to brighten up the summer morning. It does so by displaying a profusion of 5-petalled golden or sulphur-yellow fragrant flowers, hanging gaily on delicate, thread like pedicals. Draped in streaming clusters of golden sprays, the tree is a striking beauty from April to June. Through never entirely leafless, the deciduous Golden Shower sheds most of its leaves between March and May. The newly formed foliage has a rich copper or chocolate colour. A charming, slowgrowing, about 9 meters high tree with a spreading, one crown, it produces durable wood used for making agricultural implements, carts and grain-pounders.

(Rs2.00) BAUHINIA ( Bauhinia Variegate Linnaeus). Stocky and medium sized, with smooth trunk and thick foliage it is a beautiful ornamental tree that produces showey, fragment flowers in a range of colours?lavender, pink, mauve and purple with mottles, splashes and streaks of white and crimson. There is another variety with porcelain-white flowers, often with a mother-pearl gleam. Bauhinia variegata is often confused with the purple Bahunia (Bauhinia purpurea Linnaeus) ehich also produces variegated (though not white) flowers. The time of flowering is a distinguishing feature between the two. B. variegata is in bloom in spring while B. purpurea comes to flower in autumn.

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