Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chennai's prolific bloomers- African tulip tree (Spathodia campanulata)

A member of the MNS has helped me ID the flamboyant African Tulip tree/Squirt flower tree/Pataadi (in Tamil) or Spathodia campanulata. Link to pictures previously posted on my blog.

The tree seems to be aptly called the African Tulip tree or the squirt flower tree:
It is native to africa and can grow up to 23-82ft tall. Indeed, photographing the one in front of Shakambari gave my neck muscles the much needed stretch! THe flowers are a flamboyant orange-red and the tree is planted extensively as an ornamental tree through the tropics.

It has the potential to become an invasive species - no i am not going to blog about what this means botanically - look here for more info. Well good for us, I would think! It lends SO much color to our streets!

Why the squirt flower tree? The buds are ampule shaped and are often used by children (presumably in africa as i havent seen anyone here do this) to squirt water.

The nectar is popular with many birds as is the bark for nesting.

The scientific name Spathodia Campanulata comes from the greek word spathe (broad blade), in reference to the spadix like calyx. In botany, a spadix (pl. spadices) is a type of spike: an inflorescence with small flowers crowded on a thickened, fleshy axis. The flowers are campanulate, meaning they are shaped like bells. The picture of the flower included in my earlier post probably does a better job of explaining, though it does not show the inflorescence.

Leaf Galls

Leaf Galls - a terrrible nauseating sight, something we encountered about a month back; didnt know what it was then, attributed it to an insect, cut and threw the leaves away (and washed our hands with dettol). It turns out these things arent all that uncommon, especially in early spring, and arent as terrible as they look.

Here's what the web has to say.

Wish i had taken a picture of one of the leaves, it was quite a sight!

View from the terrace

The wood apple is called vilvam in tamil and bael in hindi. It is used to worship God Shiva in the Hindu religion. The leaves smell like those of the lime and stay fresh for a long time after they are plucked.

 ID anyone?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

THe first portulacas of this spring

my portus are blooming - and like how?! keeping the different colors near each other has yielded a pleasant surprise - one of the flowers is colored half orange and half pink!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I marvelled at their shiny green spiky leaves

and now it turns out they have the cutest little white flowers!! will our plants never cease to surprise?!
From 090216 - Flowering and Non Flowering Plants

Its not halloween yet....

but we are ready with our pumpkins !!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Horticultural Gardens and Cityscapes enroute

starting off with a picture of the adenium - the legendary desert rose

i wonder what these two are:

a patch of portulacas:

a shock of color amidst the green:

a beautiful purple trumpet:

This one has intrigued me for long - a creeper with little blue flowers. i wonder if it is the slender dwarf morning glory:

The real 'bird of paradise' - the flowers are barely visible though:

This tree had a hue of blue all over because of its little blue flowers. The leaves are tiny, dark green and shiny. The bark is like that of the eucalyptus. The ground all around was seemingly covered wiht blue chalk powder - petals of the flowers.

For cityscapes click here.

Update: The second picture has been identified as the scarlet flame bean, the third as the fish tail palm. The little blue flowers on the creeper is the skyblue clustervine and the tree in the last three pictures is the tree of life. Later posts will tell you more about all of these. Click on the labels!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pictures from Shakambari

gothic succulent plant:
From 090315 Shakambari

Passion fruit variety?:
From 090315 Shakambari

ISnt this colorful?!
From 090315 Shakambari

From 090315 Shakambari

Chennai's prolific bloomers - Raintree and more

A drive to Shakambari (our neighbourhood nursery) and then through Gandhinagar last weekend provided a lot of photo opportunities of the trees that bloom at this time of the year and lend so much color to the city.
The raintree- which, in full bloom, is a really beautiful tree. It's flowers have a powderpuff like appearance, with silky strands that are white at the base and pink on top. The flowers warrant a closer look than is displayed here:

The Spathodia was also in full bloom - painting the city red with its pretty flowers:

Beautiful white bougainvilla hung from gates:

From 090315 Shakambari

There was also a profusion of yellow thanks to the candlebush and chestnut leaf trumpetbushes; light pink/white from the white trumpets, reds and oranges from the roadside bougainvillas and clouds of yellow from the copperpod. More pictures to come! Here's one of the entrance to an apartment complex strewn with white trumpets from the tree near the gate.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Is lobster claw

Contrary to what we always thought, this is not the bird of paradise! This is the lobster claw.

another prolific bloomer IDed - Yellow Chestnutleaf Trumpetbush

The ubiquitous chestnutleaf trumpetbush (tecoma castanifolia). Take a close look at the flowers - they are often confused with the slightly bigger and equally omnipresent alamandas and with the national flower of the US virgin islands - the yellow bells (tecoma stans) which have compound leaves.
Click on the first picture and take a closer look at the leaves - they are simple leaves and have beautiful serated edges.
Now i wonder if these flowers are what are also called 'yellow bells'?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tailed Jay (Graphium Agamemnon)

No it isn't a dried leaf, it's a butterfly!! The tailed jay belongs to the category Papilionidae (Swallowtail butterfly).
From Butterflies

Agamemnon was the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Helen of Troy. Why a butterfly is named after the decidedly mentally messed up megalomaniacal king is not something i know.

My mother's pride and joy - Brinjals from the garden

From 090215 - Fruits and Vegs

Prolific flowers & trees finally identified!

I have long wondered whaat the names of the flowers most common in my mother's garden are and today i finally found out:

From Flower arrangements

From 090216 - Flowering and Non Flowering Plants

This is the snowy white dwarf bauhinia /orchid. It is native to Asia. The white flowers look like snowflakes hanging on the branches and hence the name Snowy Orchid Tree. The leaves are shaped a little like a horse's hoof.

Crepe jasmine (called nandiar vatai here in Chennai) is a shrub very common in India and used extensively for religious activities. The petals are arranged in a pretty little pinwheel pattern and the leaves are dark green and shiny. The stems exude a milky latex when broken.

The unknown yellow flower that blooms on a tree much like the aralli (which btw is non other than the oleander) - Mexican oleander.

and for the pavazhai malli - night jasmine or tree of sadness! The flowers bloom at night and before dawn fall off the tree giving the ground underneath a pleasing blend of white and red. Called Coral Jasmine in English, it has a tell-tale botanical name: Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, Nyctanthes meaning that which blossoms at nightfall. It has many medicinal uses: antibacterial, antiinflammatory and anthelmintic (destroying intestinal worms). A dye extracted from the tube of the flower is used to color Tussar Silk.

The blue conch like flower with a yellow center that grows on a creeper on the left velli near the palms is called the butterfly pea

Here are all the flowers:

From Flower arrangements

The tree in front of the neighbour's- raintree
The english name for the champa - temple tree a.k.a plumeria;
The ubiquituous ashoka = the mast tree.

I cannot wait to see the flowers of the ashoka, the rain tree and the gulmohar (dolonix regia) this spring! The copperpod is already adding so much color to the cityscape!

To the not so discerning eye, the copperpod, gulmohar and the raintree look much the same when not in bloom. The way i tell them apart is by looking at the pods - those of the gulmohar are much longer and bigger than those of the copperpod - and by looking to see if the leaves close at night or when it cloudy - a behaviour observed only in the raintree. The leaves of the raintree are also a little bigger, rounder and of a darker green than those of the gulmohar and the copperpod.

Monday, March 2, 2009

My succulent unidentified plant

that i bought sometime last summer from the Horticultural Gardens is in full bloom! Bunches of really pretty, tiny red flowers adorn the ends of each of four branches and thanks to all the sun, the undersides of most leaves has turned a beautiful pinkish-magenta color.
From 090216 - Flowering and Non Flowering Plants

November 2009 update: An exhaustive search through the flowers of india website leads me to believe that this is the Flaming Katy (kalanchoe blossfeldiana).  (no wonder i thought the person at the nursery said something like 'kalanjium' )

The common indian crow (Nymphalidae: Brush footed butterfly)

From Butterflies

I got a picture of the CIC sitting on the exora bush between the coconut trees. It is brown in color, with a pretty line of white dots along the bottom edge of the hind side, both on the upper and under side wings.