Friday, July 31, 2009

Festival of The Trees: Edition #38

It's here!! Another edition of the Festival of The Trees, this time almost 12 hours earlier than usual because it's coming to you all the way from the tropics of Asia!

So what have the trees and tree bloggers been up to this month?? Well, the trees for one have been up to some eerie stuff it seems - travel to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Florida to see a tree that has been hosting ghost orchids and with Huckleberry to British Columbia to see yet others don on witch's hair! Take a minute also to look at these beautiful (and at times ghostly) sycamore trees that Granny J so admires. Looks like the trees are already gearing up for Halloween!

In another part of north america, it's Christmas all year round. Karen from Trees, if you please, shares pictures of Christmas tree farms she chanced upon while driving through Ashe County, North Carolina.

But I stray from the theme of the month - summer fruit bearing trees! Fruit bearing trees, it seems, have been busy giving forth their bounty despite other duties. Did you know that hazelnut trees make for great bike racks? Hugh from Rock Paper Lizard certainly thinks so! This month he continues the fascinating journey of hazelnut formation as the flowers pollinated in February fertilize after almost five months. And if you thought that was unusual, prepare to be blown by Vicky's post on the reproduction of American Chestnuts using shotguns!

Dan explores the world of the Eastern Black Walnut on The World's Tree Species. Dave meanwhile captures the movements of a rat snake that uses a black walnut tree as a conduit to get into his house. Pica from Feathers of Hope writes about a nectarine tree laden with fruit that unfortunately has cracked in half. And in the community environmental blog The Clade, Biodiversivist shares the tale of Stella, a true Giving Tree (aren't they all?) that continues to feed people from near and far.

Trees in this part of the world have been no less busy. My neighbor's jackfruit tree has been busy as always at this time of the year, and the few extra kilos (which i prefer using to the x2.2 lbs) around my hips are testament to how irresistible her fruit has been! Readers from the temperate region, are you wondering what a jackfruit is? Fret not, Hen from Singapore shares pictures of ten very interesting fruit trees found in the tropics, including that of the tasty jackfruit. After a feast of the smelly Durian, which is banned in air conditioned places in Singapore because of its strong odor, she takes us on a walk through the island of Pulau Ubin (part of the island nation of Singapore) and leaves us wanting to visit for ourselves to take in all the fruit-diversity!

I should not blame the jackfruit alone for my extra lbs though -- the mango is just as guilty! Called the 'king of fruits' in India, the mango floods the market in the summer months. And it turns out that the association of the mango tree with Indian culture goes back a very long way -- read more about my encounter with a mango tree that is rumored to be 3500 years old and that bears fruit of a different taste in each branch here. Perhaps the authorities should use some dendrochronology (link courtesy Vicky of TGAW) to investigate the myth behind the age of this temple tree.

From Asia we travel back to the Americas; this time to Mexico, where Brandon explains the mystery of the transformation of a guava from the seedless fruit kind to the seeded. And all you non-Spanish speakers, if you travel to a Spanish speaking country and fancy a guava, do remember to ask not for a guava, but a guyaba, as the guava is known there. The 'guava/guaba' in Spanish refers to something else - "a weird legume with a pleasantly fruity gel around it's seeds". Thank you Brandon for pointing this out!

To know more about what tree bloggers have been up to this month, we zoom down to Sau Paulo, where Ricardo has been witness to the termite attack on a Jacaranda tree. Ricardo has been kind enough to translate the post into english for the benefit of those of you who can't understand the language. Ricardo certainly has a point -- it is important not just to plant trees around the city, take in their beauty and harvest their fruit, but also to care for them and monitor their health periodically. Roger from Quebec writes about the city policy around trees or 'protected weeds' as they are called!.. If you are conversant with French, read his original post here; if not, check out the English translation he has provided here.

So with that, we come to the end of yet another fruitful Festival of The Trees. I leave you with a poem from Ren Powell - The Parentage of the Dix Pear. Thank you tree lovers for your wonderful posts; I hope you had just as much fun reading as I did!

Next month's festival will be hosted at Arboreality. The theme for inspiration is Secrets:
“Forests, farms, gardens, urban trees, and ancient-rock-clinging-wind-whipped Bristlecone pine stands can be an escape, a place to hide, a space to rest, a home for buried treasure. This month, I invite you to reveal a small glimpse of a secret among the trees. Consider the quiet spots you go to sit, the trees which have stood in silent observation of the events of your life, the aromatic memory of the garden from a place you have visited. With word, image, sound, or otherwise inspired creation, give us a peek at what you see, or what you can imagine."

The email address to send links to is trees (at) brainripples (dot) com and the deadline is the 28th of August.

If you'd like to play host to future festivals, write to Dave: bontasaurus (at) yahoo (dot) com, and Pablo: editor (at) roundrockjournal (dot) com. Don't be shy -- it's a lot of fun!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Burmese Cassia to wish LJ a speedy recovery

This tree was in full bloom when i came across it in the Theosophical Society in Chennai. The colorful bunches of flowers drew me closer and i was quite taken by their beauty. I am told that this is the Burmese Cassia (Cassia Renigera)
I wish i could send a few bunches of these pretty pinkish yellow flowers to wish a dear reader of mine - my aunt LJ, a speedy recovery after her surgery. She is many miles away, so i hope these pictures will work their charm instead.

The leaves are similar to other caesalpinieae :

Saturday, July 25, 2009

More on the yellow orange beauty at the Theosophical Society

Do you remember the yellow orange beauty i blogged about a while back after a visit to the Theosophical society? On a recent visit i noticed that the bark and leaves of this tree are very similar to that of the Guaiacum officinale a.k.a The tree of life . The description of the fruit of the Tree of Life match the yellowish orange tiny fruit that i photographed hanging all over this tree last month. It's too bad that i did not see it in flower.
So i must remember to keep an eye on this wooded friend in my future visits, for any hint of flowers that will help confirm it's identity. If only the trees could talk and tell us their names...

Don't forget, dear readers, that next month's Festival of The Trees will be right here on this blog! So do remember to check back the first week of August for the 38th edition of the Festival of Trees! And if you have a tree related post or picture to share, send in your link.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Coralwood (Adenanthera pavonina)

One of my oldest childhood memories is of tagging along while my family visited friends and spending the evening in their garden collecting the pretty little red seeds that were scattered in the mud. I have long wanted to know what the tree was called and imagine my delight when i came across this tree recently and learnt that it was called the Coral wood tree.. no surprises there i suppose. The seed is of an enchanting red color. The pods burst open and the seeds are scattered helter skelter by the wind. A recent wind storm and rain brought a bunch of seeds into our garden --i am yet to find out where the tree they came from is.
Anyway back to the tree i bumped into recently... here are pictures... the leaves are quite similar to those of the raintree, but the swollen pods and the red seeds lying all around were the give-away. I was glad to reconnect with this childhood friend of mine :) The coralwood tree is also called the red bead tree and is native to SE Asia.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another banyan

Unlike most of the banyans in the city that have their roots trimmed to make way for urban life, this one in the theosophical society has been allowed to spread its roots. The girth of the main trunk is immense. Some of its branches have broken and are held up by iron rods. And yet the tree continues to grow, much like the grand old banyan in the same grounds that i blogged about last month. Look at the roots on the ground.. from a distance they resemble snakes!

Monday, July 20, 2009

I cannot get enough of the enchanting Gulmohar

This one is from the theosophical society in chennai:

And this one is from kanchipuram:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The mango tree of Indian mythology

70 kms (about 40miles) south west of Chennai lies the temple town of Kanchipuram, one of the 7 holiest places of the Hindu religion. Kanchipuram, called the town of a 1000 temples draws as many tourists interested in seeing its temple architecture as it does devotees of the Hindu religion. Being an architecture buff myself, i set out this month to take in the architectural splendours of this ancient town.

Imagine my delight, when i found the town to be full of not just 7th century architectural marvels but also several of the tropical trees that ive been meaning to get a closer look at. But i should have known it would be so - trees have always been revered in the Hindu religion and the tradition of worshiping trees continues to this day. No temple in south india is complete without the 'temple tree', and the one that really caught my eye in Kanchipuram was the Mango tree of the Ekambareswar temple.

This famed tree, called the sthala-virutcham, features in Hindu mythology and is supposed to be 3500 years old! The tree is supposed to have four branches, each of which bears fruit of a different flavour - so tree grafting is not as recent a technique as one would have imagined! Each branch represents one of the vedas - which are four sacred texts of Hinduism.

Now there's no telling how old the tree that stands now really is. I could not find any literature about it and sadly i was to taken with all the sculpture that followed in the surrounding halls to remember to talk to the priests about the tree. But i found it really nice that there was an entire temple, and such a revered one at that, that centers around a mango tree! The name of the temple comes from the tree - Ekambareswar in sanskrit means 'the God of the one mango tree'. The structure around the tree looks like it has been added in recent times; but much of the other temple structure was built in the 7th century AD by the Pallava Kings and later expanded by the Chola Kings. The temple was in existence even prior to the 7th century though, as it is mentioned in tamil literature dating from the 2nd century AD.

One of the exquisitely sculptured stone pillars of the temple features the tree:

Neat, isnt it?! The mango is the national fruit of both India and Pakistan. Called the king of fruits, it probably is the fruit that is most relished in the summer months all over the region. Here is a picture from last month of a few branches of our neighbourhood mango tree, laden with mangoes!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another insect falls prey

to my neighbourhood spider. To cast a glance in the direction of this fascinating creature's web has become a morning ritual that is proving quite addictive! I found the spider busy at work yesterday morning, wrapping its prey up in its funeral shroud.

A member of the Madras Naturalists Society helped identify this spider:
"the spider in your blog is the Striped Cross / Striped Fourleg (Argiope aemula) -- not as common as the Common Cross (A. anasuja); I've seen the former only once in my house in Tambaram.

Thank you Preston!

Here is another one that i found near my house. And who says only butterflies are colorful?!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Festival of trees #37 - Survivor Trees

Vicky has posted an excellent themed edition of the festival of trees - survivor trees. The festival features fascinating trees that have survived great odds and *in most cases* continue to live on. Do stop by.
Next month's festival will be right here on this blog! So do remember to check back the first week of August for the 38th edition of the Festival of Trees! And if you have a tree related post or picture to share, send in your link.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

White Bauhinia ?

I ran into this tree a long time back - i did not know then what it was, stored the pictures and forgot about them. But my recent posts on the purple bauhinia and the leaves of the snowy white dwarf bauhinia triggered my memory - did not the leaves of the mystery tree resemble the leaves of these two bauhinia's ? I took a look and yes! not just were the leaves very similar - horse hoof shaped, the flowers looked like a whitish version of the purple bauhinia with a few mauve streaks on the petals. A little bit of internet research left me convinced that it is definitely a Bauhinia or Orchid Tree, but i do not know how to make out if it is a Bauhinia purperea or bauhinia variegata. Do you know how to tell these two species apart? Is it just by the color of the flowers?
Can you tell from these pictures what this tree is for sure? *clicking on the pictures will give you a closer look*
Do let me know!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Purple Bauhinia

i was driving by the streets of CIT colony when i saw this petite purple bauhinia in full bloom - what a beauty she was! i was quick to not let the opportunity go by - the other occassions when i've seen this tree species have not been conducive to taking pictures - so i got out on the street and snapped away.
Dont be fooled by the thick bark - that is the stump of an older tree that stands beside the bauhinia. Here is the real thing:

The first thing i noticed was that the leaves were just like those of the snowy white dwarf orchid! horse hoof shaped!

Look at the flowers - beautiful aren't they? Now, im not sure if this is the bauhinia purpurea or the bauhinia variegata - initially i thought it was the former because of the color, later i read that the latter comes in purple and in white and in purple-whites. The purpurea is supposed to have really thin petals though, so i think this is the variegata. But that's just my guess! If you can tell for sure, comment away!