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!

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!

Fragrance Overload (ThursdayTreeLove)

As the heat increases at this time of the year, our trees and plants burst into new leaves and flowers. This makes every Nature Walk a magical experience for the splendid colours that it dons. Fragrant flowers and the crunch of dry leaves under our feet, add to this multi sensory joyous experience! After the glorious red leaves of Kusumb, the haunting sweet fragrance of Shirish flowers announce the trees’ celebration of a season change. It beckons you to stand below the tree and drown yourself in its sweetness.

In March, on the tekdi, Shirish is among the few trees sprouting green and stands out from a distance
The Flower Up Close.. Pretty and Light and Fragrant!

Shirish goes by the botanical name Albizia lebbeck of the Mimosaceae family. The flowers are curiously shaped and look like a bunch of delicate strands that would wilt if we touch. Greenish white in colour, each ‘flower’ is actually an inflorescence. These turn into broad green fruit that dries to white over the year. At any time, the Shirish always bears these white pods which rattle in the breeze.

Standing under this row of Shirish is a heavenly experince.
Another view of a flower

As luck will have it, I am unable to locate the image of the pods but I will get a new one and upload it here. 🙁

This species grows to a fairly large size and is common as an avenue tree in Pune. At times, it is confused with the Rain Tree (Samanea saman) also of the same family but the flower colour, pods are some of the distinguishing features.

This is the flower of the Rain Tree

Shirish is among my favourite species and in bloom right now. I am sure many of you would have seen it. Enjoy it’s flowering as the tree celebrates a season change.

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

Red

I had another post with the same title a few weeks ago. So yes, you dear readers, are right in wondering if you have reached the wrong page. But no, this is a different Red, just as spectacular.

I am talking about the spring foliage of a native tree called Kusumb or Schleichera oleosa. It belongs to the Sapindaceae family and is a treat to watch. This deciduous tree bursts into new leaf as winter ends and the tree dons a glorious red. It can be easily spotted from a distance.

The blaze of red one sees when travelling in the ghats in Maharashtra at this time of the year is most likely the Kusumb.

Here are some of the tantalising glimpses we got as we were returning home from a Botany field visit. Finally, we just had to stop and enjoy this beautiful foliage.

Capturing images from a moving bus is so difficult! This is just one Red that we whizzed past.
We just had to stop!!
All of us trying to capture the red in our cell phones.

Here is the Kusumb from Pune from our Vetal Tekdi.

My phone camera does not do justice but the red is easily spotted among the bare trees, even from a distance!
A good camera in the hands of a knowledgeable person captures such great images! Photo credit Pallavi Gharpure

The Kusumb also bears flowers at this time but the leaves steal the show! Its fruit is very useful among them is being used to make a special kind of hair oil that encourages hair growth.

Schleichera oleosa finds a mention in Trees of Delhi and Jungle Trees of Central India … which means it grows in those regions as well.

Do try to see these gorgeous leaves..because they will turn green soon.

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

Wander Into Nature

And Nature, the old nurse, took

The Child upon her knee,

Saying: ‘Here is a story -book

Thy Father has written for thee.’

‘Come, wander with me’, she said,

Into regions yet untrod;

And read what is still unread

In the manuscripts of God.’

Longfellow The Fiftieth Birthday of Agassiz

I came across these words recently on the first page of a book I am reading and they immediately reminded me of the Bhorgiri trek we took a few years ago. It was one of my first experiences of walking out in Nature and being the monsoon the experience was fantastic. One that I have craved for again and again. To feel free and to experience Nature as it is meant to be.

Here are a few images from that wonderful outing.

Till date, I have not identified this tree.. And it was the only bare leafless one, surrounded by a profuse burst of green.
The mist covered hill beckoned us …
Some Orchid on the tree.. could not photograph properly due to the rain
We walked through a thick jungle, over rocks and gurgling streams.. the forest showed some of its mysteries to us..
The entire countryside was covered in a glorious green carpet..

I did identify some trees and herbs, but the lasting impression was of the green countryside… Raw. Rejuvenated. Glorious.

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.