The days grow longer and warmer heralding the ensuing summer.
The yellow chandeliers of Cassia flowers and bright red “flame of the forest” or Butea, can be seen. Did you know many of these are useful as they possess medicinal values and are thus in demand.
Dr. A. Vijaya Bhasker Reddy, assistant professor of Botany, P.G. College of Science, says, “Few trees such as Prosopis velutina are known for flowers that grow in clusters in a cylindrical manner, popularly called catkins or velvet flowers.
Seeds in the legumes attract fauna that feed on them. Trees like Michelia champaca, commonly known as magnolia flowers, are known for their strong fragrance. Many flowers and fruits have medicinal properties and can be used for treating various conditions like eczema, diabetes, constipation, sores, cuts and joint pains.
Azadirachta indica or neem tree has many medicinal value. The leaves are used in treating skin diseases common during summers. Neem tree also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.”
Go closer to trees and you will find that these form an important part of the ecosystem, supporting a food chain and more.
Many birds are attracted to these bright summer flowers for nectar thus helping in pollination. Chichra tesu (butea monosperma) or “flame of the forest” has bright orange flowers and a unique petal shape.
The gum is valuable for its astringent qualities. The flowers are used to prepare organic colour during Holi.
Bael (Aegle marmelos), also known as stone apple bears fruit in summer. The fruit juice has therapeutic properties.
Watch out for Cotton tree (Bombax ceiba) . When the tree breaks into flowers, it is said to mark the onset of exams.
The fruit, a capsule when ripe contains white fibres, resembling cotton. But the crown of the season goes to Cassia fistula or “amaltas”. Called the “Indian Laburnum” or the “Golden Shower”, it is known for its bright yellow flowers that tend to carpet roads and parks. The root is useful for treating skin diseases while the pulp from its long bean shaped fruits also has medicinal properties.
Have fun tree spotting this summer.
Make a note of it.
Make yourself a diary using the left over pages.
Make a note of interesting flowers or fruit-bearing trees that you see.
Add a leaf or flower from the tree.
This will also double up as your personal herbarium.