Cousin (ThursdayTreeLove)

These cute pink ball like flowers can be quite misleading. They look like Touch Me Not flowers but the leaves do not respond to touch. Further, this is a shrubby plant whereas the Touch Me Not is mostly a ground hugging herb.

Hooked prickles visible

With no further suspense, let me share that this plant is Mimosa hamata – a ‘cousin’ of the famous Touch Me Not. Both belong to the Mimosaceae family and to the Mimosa genus. It is common on the hills of Pune and the pretty flowers demand attention from afar. They are not fragrant and the plant has hooked prickles which means one has to be careful when trying to take photographs!

Mimosa hamata is commonly seen on Vetal Tekdi

We meet several such plant cousins. The Jasmines are all ‘related’ if I may say so.. They belong to the same Genus. Which other cousins have you met?

🙂

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove blog hop. Do head over to see some fantastic trees from around the world. Better still, join in!

Explore (ThursdayTreeLove)

My city, Pune, is lucky to have many hills (called tekdi in Marathi) within the city limits itself or should I say, the city has grown to engulf the hills and now threatens their very existence. I have many posts about the Vetal Tekdi but today I introduce you to the Dhanori Hills. These hills are in the periphery of Pune and overlook the airport.

Compared to Vetal Tekdi, this area is almost tree- less.. almost because there were just a handful of young trees growing there. You can see what I mean in this image.

This is a Neem tree aka Azadirachta indica of the Meliaceae family. It is a native Indian species that grows in difficult areas. It is an immensely useful tree and is seen in most parts of India.

We had to drive quite a distance to reach this spot and seeing the almost lonely tree, I found this to be a perfect quote.

If you know a lonely tree, go and visit it even it it takes miles to walk there! Because lonely tree is a great monument of strength! — Mehmet Murat ildan

The climb is easy in parts but some parts are really tough on the knees entailing huge step-ups. There is a series of three hillocks with a flat portion after each that leads to the next climb. The fourth hillock has a small temple that is a very calm and serene place.

The twin domes of the Dighi Hills (located at some distance away) can be spotted all through the climb up.

Panoramic view of the city.

Travel opens our minds to many things but I think its also important to explore different parts of the city/town we live in. One never knows what surprises it will throw up!

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove bloghop. Do head over to see some fantastic trees from around the world. Better still, join in!

Rubber (ThursdayTreeLove)

For a very long time, I thought that rubber that is used in various industries (to make tires, footwear, pipes and so on – just to name a few) comes from the Rubber Plant. To my chagrin, I realised my mistake quite late in life! The domestic ornamental Rubber Plant actually belongs to the Moraceae family and is Ficus elastica.

Commercially, rubber is sourced from Hevea brasiliensis that belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. This tree is native to South America but was introduced to India by the British and is now grown extensively in southern states of India. Latex collected from these plants is processed to make various industrial products.

The deciduous tree has a leafy crown of trifoliate leaves. Wild specimens can live for up to 100 years but those grown in plantations are replanted earlier as latex production falls. I saw several plantations a few years ago in Kasargod, Kerala. Here are a few images.

The crown was too high for me to capture the leaf details but we can see the dense shade cast by the canopy.
Latex oozes out from cuts made on the tree trunk and it is collected in such vessels. This process is called tapping and it is usually done in the morning.
Spot the latex drop and it drips into the container.

Here is a Wikipedia article that gives detailed info about the chemical nature of rubber, its processing and so on. Little do we realise that plants provide the raw material of so many important products in our lives.

It is interesting to know that many plants have influenced history. Prof PK Ghanekar has written the book इतिहास घडविणार्‍या वनस्पती (means Plants that have fashioned history) wherein he has described many such varieties and Rubber is one of them.

Have you seen the Hevea brasiliensis?

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove bloghop. Do head over to see some fantastic trees from around the world. Better still, join in!

Uncommon beauty (ThursdayTreeLove)

Today I share a pretty shrub that I have seen only in the wild. Somehow never spotted it in gardens be they public ones or home gardens.

Called Dhayti in Marathi or Woodfordia fruiticosa , this spreading shrub grows commonly on the hills of Pune. It has ovate leaves and the crimson or blazing orange flowers are most distinctive. Dhayti belongs to the Lythraceae family and is an indigenous species. It is said to have huge medicinal benefits in Ayurveda.

This uncommon beauty is surely worthy of a place in city gardens dont you think!

This is what the beautiful flowers reminded me of..

“Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth’s lips spoken without sound.” – Edwin Curran

Have you seen the Dhayti? It flowers from February to April so do watch out for it!

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove bloghop. Head over to see fantastic trees from around the world. Better still, join in!

Precious Moments (Wordless Wednesday)

Our morning walks to the tekdi offers immense joy for the mind and soul…besides physical benefits of course!

Last month we were treated to this fabulous rainbow.. a full semicircle stretching across the horizon.

My cell phone camera was woefully inadequate to capture this beautiful sight!

And if this wasn’t enough, we saw a tiny band of a second rainbow on top!

Look carefully to see the second rainbow!

Such experiences reiterate that we must enjoy and cherish every moment. Why stress about things not in our control?

Framed!

Spend your money on the things money can buy

Spend your time on the things money cant buy– Haruki Murakami

I am joining Natasha in her WordlessWednesday bloghop. #WW

Feast (ThursdayTreeLove)

Instead of a tree growing in the open, today I have my Bonsai tree for you. We call it Wax but botanically it is the Ehretia microphylla or Fukien Tea. It belongs to the Boranginaceae family and I have seen it growing in the Andamans but its ‘cousin’ Ehretia laevis does grow in Pune. Its shiny small leaves make it a perfect species for Bonsai. My tree is a Shohin and the reason I post it today is that currently it is fruiting and is a big attraction for local birds.

Shiny dark green leaves. Buds and fruit on the plant. Birds leave the green raw fruit alone.
The red ripe fruit is irresistible to Sunbirds! Its about the size of a grain of Toor Dal.
A pair of Sunbirds feast on the fruits!

Here is my tree in case you are curious… It is about 10″ tall.

My plant is still Work In Progress especially the Apex.

Fruit on my Cherry Bonsai

The same species that I saw in the Andamans
Thats Cherry on my Bonsai and Bulbuls love it. However the green raw ones are left untouched and once ripened the Bulbus unerringly feast on it.. You can see a half eaten cherry here!

We are a small group of Bonsai Moms and shower our trees with love and care. As you can see, the trees reciprocate by blooming and fruiting profusely which in turn is a feast for birds and insects. And a source of immense joy and satisfaction for us.

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove blog hop. Do head over to see fantastic plants from around the world. Better still, join in.

Spicy (ThursdayTreeLove)

Todays tree has a small back story.. rather how I came to spot it.

I was sent an image of a tree in bloom requesting its ID. I, in turn shared it with some other tree lovers and it was thought to be the Dalchini tree. Someone shared the spot where it grows and very soon, one thing led to another, and a small group of us ended up going tree hunting.

It wasn’t really a hunt actually, since we knew its location but we did end up seeing a whole lot of other wonderful trees enroute. The Beggars Bowl that I shared earlier was from that same outing.

So here it is.

It looked glorious and was covered with lovely tiny yellow/white flowers. The entire area was filled with a distinct cinnamon fragrance. Cinnamomum verum belongs to the Lauraceae family and is native to India.

This is an evergreen species, not very tall and grows mainly in South India and Sri Lanka. Its distinctive leaves have three veins.

Though a native species, Pune is not its favourite geographical area but as I said, the city has many enthusiastic home gardeners who have gathered plants from far and wide and nurtured them. This is a treat for tree lovers and botany students.

Have you got a group tree lovers in your city? Do you go on tree walks – before the pandemic struck? Such groups are a great way to nurture our hobby, learn details about trees and when they flower/fruit in the area.

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove blog hop. Do head over to see some fantastic trees from around the world. Better still, join in!

Coffee (ThursdayTreeLove)

I have posted Coffee on my blog earlier and here it is again.

The reason for a repeat post on Coffee is because @puneribaker shared these lovely Coffee blossom images.. And I had to share them with all TTL bloggers!

Coffee belongs to the Coffea genus and to the Rubiaceae family.

Its flowers are extremely fragrant and grow in leaf axils. The leaves itself are oppositely placed on the stem and have a prominent interpetiolar stipule. This kind of stipule is a characteristic of this plant family.

Commercially, coffee is grown in tea estates under the shade of tall Silver Oak trees. In India, the Kodagu district in Karnataka is a prominent coffee growing region.

But plant lovers have procured and nurtured coffee plants in their gardens in other parts of India as well. The above images are from one such garden. The species grows well in Pune.. bears flowers and fruits (despite not being in its optimal weather conditions) thus keeping the plant parents are happy!!

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove blog hop. We are meeting after a break and best wishes to Parul for recovery. Do head over to her blog to see some fantastic trees from around the world. Better still, join in!

PS. Some other Rubiaceae members are Mussaenda , Morinda citrifolia and Mitragyna parviflora. They are popular garden varieties and I am sure you would have seen those.

Fruit or Bowl (ThursdayTreeLove)

Kamamdalu, Beggars Bowl are just 2 of the common names of this tree of the Bignoniaceae family. Quite self explanatory I think! Calabash is yet another name this tree is known by.

The common names suggests that the fruit shell continues to be useful even after its pulp is consumed. Very few plants can boast that….coconut is one. Can you think of another?

This tree is Crescentia cujete and is seen around Pune mostly as a planted tree. It doesn’t grow very tall and bears flowers directly on its trunk. (This is referred to as Cauliflory. Jackfruit grows in this manner.) The large fruit seem too heavy for its stalk but it does a good job!! The evergreen species is originally from South America yet seems to be happy in our country!

Flowers!

Here is You Tube video of the same tree .. I have added this video as it gives a nice perspective of the plant and fruit.

Have you seen this Fruit-Bowl?

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove blog hop. Do head over to see trees from around the world. Better still, join in!