Bark of the matter

The Bentham and Hooker system classifies plants based on the structure of their flowers. In the field, there are several tips whereby its possible to study the flower and identify the Family that the plant belongs to. More ‘homework’ may be required to pinpoint the name.
However problems arise when faced with an unknown tree which is not in bloom as then identification becomes difficult.
Some plants have distinctive leaves and some have peculiar trunks/barks which makes them easy to identify or helps you shortlist some names even if you don’t see their flowers. e.g. Arjun, Gorakh chincha…
While this sounds easy, believe me, its not. I know of Botanists who end up confused when faced with a young specimen or need to carry twigs, leaves back from the wild to civilisation to refer to their journals, Google Baba, herbariums etc for a precise name.

This post is dedicated to amazing tree trunks that I have seen over the last year or so. These are just a few out of zillions. Its not meant to be a lesson in botany– far from it. Its just a weak attempt at capturing the wonders in Mother Nature…

Matti tree
The matti tree- The water maker. When the top layer is cut, water surges out almost as if from a pipe. This water can be consumed.

Water maker tree
Elephants scrape off the bark of the Matti tree to get water
Coffee estate
Orange coloured bark of Silver Oak inside coffee estates in Coorg, India. They seem to be up to five-six storey high…

Lalbagh, Bangalore
A supposedly 20 million year tree fossil in Lalbaugh, Bangalore
Devrai trees
Ficus nervosa a.k.a Loth A person can easily stand inside the gap seen above.
The creeper Entada has a convoluted, grotesque looking trunk
red exudate from a tree stem
Raktakanchan- red sap from its bark
Bursera – its bark has a very fragrant oily discharge

Coffee estate
Coffee trees have crooked knobly stems and the trees can live for over 100 years

Calophylum enophylum
Bark of Undi- Calophyllum inophyllum
Dubare reserve forest
Strangler vines inside Dubare reserve forest
Prosopis elengi
Rough bark of Prosopis elengi (Shami)- grows easily in Rajasthan
Vetal tekdi trees
Salai (Boswellia serrata). Its bark peels off as papery whitish layers and a green layer can be seen underneath. Several trees on Vetal tekdi, Pune usually found growing near Moi (Lannea coromandelica)

Bamboos in Dubare forest
Massive bamboos- up to six stories high- die after flowering

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