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!

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.

More Morning Hues (Wordless Wednesday)

A beach in Goa..
The Sun rises in Goa
The sugarcane fields were in bloom and I could not resist trying to capture the glowing inflorescence from the moving vehicle. The camera does no justice to the beautiful scene..

Posting a day late, but I am sure you will enjoy these images of beautiful mornings ..

I am joining Natasha in her #WW blog hop.

Offspring (ThursdayTreeLove)

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees – Amelia Earhart

While roots of trees are underground in most cases , plants do grow aerial roots. The Ficus species is the easily recognisable example. When the hanging root touches ground, a new tree is born at that spot. Over time, the single tree has several offsprings and it becomes a forest!!

The Great Banyan at the Botanical Garden in Kolkata, the Banyan at Pemgiri and the Banyan at Auroville are famous for creating such forests.

Have you seen these or other similar ancient Ficus?

Your city would surely have mini versions of such new trees.

Here are two lovely roadside trees that provide a shelter from Sun or Rain to passerby’s. A wonderful spot for evening chats!

And a cool spot to park a vehicle 😉

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove bloghop. Do head over to see some fantastic trees from around thecworld.

Better still, join in!!

Happy Diwali folks!!!

May this festival of lights bring good Health and Happiness to everyone!

Autumn Colours (ThursdayTreeLove)

“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower” – Albert Camus

Looking at Autumn or Fall colours is a right on top of my Tree Travel wish lists.. I have always just got a glimpse of the glorious foliage never really catching the plants in their full Fall Glory.

As the above quote says, each leaf dons a spectacular unique colour that truly makes it look like a flower.

Here are a few images from my travels.. I am looking forward to the day when I can see the Fall Colours with my own eyes.. sigh…. Till then, I look forward to the TTL posts from around the world in the next couple of month..

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!

Tigers Nest (Wordless Wednesday)

Last year we trekked up to the Tigers Nest, at Paro in Bhutan. It is an iconic monastry situated precariously at the very edge of a cliff at an altitude of around 10,200 feet. A visit to Bhutan is incomplete without trekking up to the Tigers Nest.

It is a demanding walk but the beautiful surroundings makes one forget time and effort. The walk is made richer as one can can spot amazing birds, butterflies enroute.

Here are a few glimpses … all images from my cell phone..

First glimpse. .there is it high up and far away…
The route meanders through an amazing Pine, Rhododendron forest .. steep in parts and gentle on the knees at others.
The gorgeous forest offers cool shade to the trekkers
Enroute one meets grand old trees!
There is a cafeteria at the half way mark.. And we got a tantalising glimpse of our goal in the distance on the opposite mountain..
Catching my breath!
Its been about an hour and half of steady climbing.. The Tigers Nest seems so close…but we have to climb down several stone steps, across a small bridge and waterfall and climb up again ..
So near..
The final climb up..
All bags, cell phones, shoes have to be deposited at this point.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual trek with me! I would love to hear from you!

I am joining Natasha in her #WordlessWednesday Bloghop!

Brush (ThursdayTreeLove)

A visit to the Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden in Kolkata was at the end of our trip to the Sunderbans. It was a botanically wondrous trip to say the least! The Garden itself is huge and home to unique trees like the famous Banyan


Here is another tree that I met for the first and only time! A beautiful red brush like structure beckoned me from a distance and located as it was amid leaves had me immediately thinking of the Shaving Brush tree (Pseudobombax ellipticum) which does grow in Pune. However when I went closer, the tree looked different especially its leaves. It was end of January and the digitate glossy green leaves suggested a different ID. 

Seen from afar

Luckily for me, the placard saved me the trouble and I could freely admire the Pachira aquatica without any stress of identification. It belongs to the Bombacaceae family just like the Shaving Brush Tree which explained the similarity in the flowers. Also known as Malabar Chestnut tree it is an introduced species in India. I loved its flowers which are nothing like those used for table decorations or bouquets. 

Flower and Fruit
Leaves


Have you seen this wonderful tree? When in Kolkata please do make time for the botanical garden! 
I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove Blog hop. Do head over to see some wonderful trees from around the world. Better still, join in!

Tree Trunk

Coffee Tales (ThursdayTreeLove)

 
This gnarled looking trunk is that of a Coffee tree! I am sure all those who have travelled to Coorg would have seen these.. It was wonderful to see the origin of something that was my saviour from drinking plain milk in childhood! 

Hence for a long time, Coffee, to me, meant the instant variety  in powder form that came out of a bottle. 

Later, I was intrigued by the strong aroma outside a coffee bean shop and as the years passed, I made lifelong friends with the ‘filter kapi’! The logical next step was to see a coffee plantation but it was only recently that this materialised.

And the wait was worth it.

The brown seeds we use are from the fruit of the plant Coffea canephora or Coffea arabica (Robusta or Arabica varieties) which belong to the Rubiaceae family. It is shrub like or a small tree and blooms profusely in February and I was told they set off a heady fragrance in the entire neighbourhood. Soon green fruit called a Berry develop which turn to red and then black when dry. It has two seeds. The fruit has to be processed to get the seeds which can then be roasted and powdered to give us that out-of-this world, mood elevator, ice breaker, life saver beverage we call coffee! 

Here are some more images..
Berries PC @puneribaker
Berries ripening to red PC @puneribaker

The trunk is used to make lamp stands which will hold a place of pride in any drawing room. Here it has been used to make a sign post. 
Baba Budan has been credited with bringing coffee to India and the rest is history as they say.

Coffee has the characteristic of creating strong fans who refuse to drink Tea. At least it has done so in my family!! 
Have you noticed this? 
Have you seen the coffee tree? Do you enjoy Coffee or Tea?

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove blog hop. It is live on the second and fourth Thursday every month. Do head over to see some fantastic trees from around the world. Better still, join in with your tree!