Flower Trees of India
India is the land of colours and faith. Our trees aren't just trees but an instrument of God, a shrine of the Supreme and a sacred, alive creature. Perhaps, only in India, the Ayurveda has proved over and again that apart from being a sacred shrine, a tree is a selfless object of nature too. It gives shelter and shade to birds and humans alike. Its bark heals wounds and stem can be used to create boats or homes. Similarly, sometimes a tree's seeds and flowers can be edible and have medicinal properties too!
Trees with flowers bring a unique touch to the garden landscape and look so magnificent! Here in this series, we bring you 5 beautiful flower trees of India that you can spot around you so easily!
Cassia fistula (The Indian laburnum or Golden rain tree or Amaltas or Canafistula)
Amaltas is one among many tropical trees that flower when it has shed leaves. The beauty and grandeur of large golden-yellow flower is iconic. The flowers are mildly-fragrant and arrange in a grape-like cluster. The tree can grow up to 40 feet tall and has a conspicuous reddish wood. The bright and fragrant yellow flowers attract bees and butterflies for pollination. The seedpod is believed to be a mild laxative and its blackish pulp is used in Ayurveda medicines.
Butea monosperma (Flame of the forest or Bastard Teak)
A native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, its most common name is Palash. It is believed that the tree is the incarnation of Lord Agni and also associated with Lord Buddha's enlightenment. It was Rabindra Nath Tagore who likened its orange-red leaves to the flames of fire. Since then, in West Bengal, it is indispensable to the celebrations of spring. It is a dry deciduous tree and reaches its full potential when the rest of the trees have shed.
Bombax ceiba (The red silk cotton tree)
The Bombay ceiba is a multi-purpose tree that can be used from stem to roots and from leaves to flowers. This flowering tree is cultivated for its medicinal and ornamental use. The tree is deciduous and can grow up to 25 metres and has a sturdy stem. The leaves are arranged in a crown and eaten as a vegetable. Seeds of this tree are roasted and eaten as a snack. Young roots of Bombax are rich in starch and can be eaten raw or roasted. The shiny red flowers are edible and used for ornamental purposes too. They are small yet pleasantly scented. The flowers grow in the winter when the tree has barely any leaves left. The flowers attract bees, squirrels and birds for pollination. These blooms are short-lived, however, are cooked in the gravy. The barely-opened young flower buds are cooked as a vegetable too.
hortensis (Flower Tree jasmine or The Indian cork tree or Neem Chameli)
The tree jasmine or Indian cork tree, as the name suggests, is found commonly in India. One can see it in its full glory in a garden or sideways. It is cultivated mainly for its ornamental silver-white flowers, which are delicate and fragrant. The flowers are a bell-shaped calyx, in the middle of which even more delicate and paler green tube stands out, dividing the white petals and yellow stamens. The blooms are arranged in an open cluster. These flowers are used as a 'gajra' in Maharashtra. The wood of the tree is quite brittle and used to manufacture a sub-standard quality of cork.
Bauhinia (Kachar Flower tree)
Bahunia is an evergreen tree and blooms from November to the March-end. It is related to the peacock flower but closely resembles orchid blooms in appearance. The purple-red flowers have five petals that overlap and are a bit irregularly arranged in a cluster. The colour of these blooms could be anything ranging from white, purple, lavender, magenta or purple-blue. The flower makes an appearance in early winters, often when the tree has barely any leaves left. The flowers are large, fragrant and mainly used for ornamental purposes.
The tree grows up to 20-40 feet tall and has a thick crown of deciduous leaves.
Preserve and protect these flower trees of India! Not only they purify air but also have healing and therapeutic properties. Cultivate them if you can and give your garden a colourful touch.