Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Summer sherbet : Mumbai's flowering trees

Summer hues brew a heady rainbow cocktail.
Leading the parade, straddling Spring and Summer, is the Indian Laburnum (Cassia fistula), so perfectly called Golden Showers. Its long drooping strings of cheery, sunshiny blooms on almost foliageless branches transform it into something King Midas must've surely dreamt up.

Yet another yellow, the Copper Pod or Yellow Poinciana (Peltophorum pterocarpum), soon blankets the trees. Lining miles and miles of Mumbai roads, these golden spires draw the eye up, turning it literally into a City of Gold.

The Curry Leaf plant is in bloom now too. White clusters of blooms with their slightly pungent scent have the butterlies flocking to them.

One of the prettiest trees of this season and one of my personal favourites, has to be the Pink Cassia (Cassia Grandis)!
I love those strawberry-icecream pink flowers smothering the bare tree, followed by the tender green leaves shortly after.

Don't the buds look pretty? The downy pink calyx almost pulls my fingers to touch it.

And just because I like it so much, here's one last photo . Dont you just love those varying shades ?

I've always been fascinated by the delicate pink and white flowers that stud the Rain Tree (Samanea saman ) . These powderpuff-like flowers feel so soft against the cheek that it was always a toss-up whether I liked the flowers more or the wide umbrella-like canopy topped with feathery leaves.
This is one of Mumbai's most common avenue trees and many a motorist out on its blistering hot roads in summer has blessed the relief of its cool shade .

Also colouring Mumbai right now is this flameburst which I spotted on an island while on a boat ride. Could it be Flame of the Forest or maybe the Coral Tree? I'm not sure, I was too far away to make out just which tree it is, but doesnt it look spectacular?

See what I mean? It looks almost as if the whole island was on fire!

Meanwhile, painting the roads right now is the latest entrant, and the city is awash with purple!

Pride of India (Lagerstromia speciosa), also called Queen's Flower or Queen's Crepe Myrtle is another of my favourite trees. The blue-green buds are just as pretty but they really come into their own with the crinkly-petalled blooms painting it in such vivid colours.

So, what's next? I'm getting greedy and I just can't wait to feast my eyes on the spectacular Gul Mohur (Delonix regia) which should be bursting on the scene in a couple of weeks.

(The first photo of the Laburnum was sent to me from Maryknoll, but all the others were taken by me in Mumbai )


  1. (Don't the buds look pretty? The downy pink calyx almost pulls my fingers to touch it.)
    Very true And I was about to touch then I realize it is screen but indeed it is pretty - lovely.
    And about Indian Laburnum - I mostly on daily basis watch them spread on road-side And the wish is to capture them into frame. Thanks to you at least you have done the same And Thanks for sharing. Keep writing. Keep clicking. Cheers.

  2. Superb! Everything looks great on you. Almost envy you a bit:) Maybe for that dream to visit India is an old mine.
    Congratulations for the perfect blog and thousands of thanks to share your world with us.
    Greetings and only good thoughts in Bucharest Romania.

    p.s.apologize for translation

  3. What a wonderful post. I love amaltas tree, it is one of very drought tolerant trees in lahore. I wonder why cassia nodosa is not common as street or road tree, although it has very long blooming period and as much pretty flowers. Another tree from indopak i fancy alot is magnolia, not at all common here.

  4. Wow Sunita....your photos of Mumbai's trees are stunning. I never knew that the crepe myrtle was also known as the pride of India. The copper pod is mistaken here for the pride of India. That cassia fistula is amazing, there is a peach colour one as well. Ahhh the pink cassia, I have the two varieties in my garden and they do give a lift to the weary soul.

  5. Wonderful pictures Sunita, the Pink Cassia is especially pretty, and I really like the big purple blooms as well. So much colour & variety!

  6. Superb display of flowers! Mumbai is in full bloom!! I love them all - have not seen the cassia grandis tho.Very lovely descriptions too.

  7. Those are delightful summer colors and I love the golden showers. I see them every morning at the back of my office that bid me goodbye. Only the summer is getting to me, draining all energy which means less work and more sleep (what with me working in nights). I already am looking forward to August rains.

  8. I took some pictures of 'Queen's crepe myrtle' this morning, but didn't know it's name!!

    I love the flowering trees more than the prettiest flowering plants in any garden. My favorite is Pink Cassia too!! And I love those beautiful pink feathery flowers too.

    My other favorite is Jacaranda, but
    I haven't seen any Jacaranda flowers in Delhi yet. Pune had lots of these beautiful purple flowers.

  9. Lovely burst of colours, Sunita!
    Isn't the first one what we call 'konna' in malayalam?
    And this is first time I am seeing flowers on a curry leaf plant in spite of have a number of these plants at both my parent's homes.
    Or maybe never noticed it :-(

  10. aloha sunita,

    love your post on the various trees, i think that is a coral tree also, but not sure from the distance shot, the island shot is amazing with the whole shades of red.

    btw, the hot, loud and proud meme is going on again at the end of this month, so i hope you can join us, please, it will be on my plantfanatic blog this friday.

  11. Summer has its saving graces - lovely pictures.

  12. Mumbai looks like a huge, magnificent Botanical garden, from your eyes.
    The long shot of the island - looking like 'island on fire' - is breathtaking.
    Summer is the worst season for all the miseries it brings, but these lovely colors, so wonderfully captured by you, are more than a silver lining.

  13. Sorry about the delay in replying everyone but I've been caught up in too many things and this summer heat just wears me out. I cant wait for the monsoons!

    Lucky you, Hobo! The Indian Laburnum has to be one of our prettiest trees. How can one not notice the artistic attention to detail in juxtaposing that bright yellow of the blooms with that bright green of the stalks? I hope you're out there exercising your photo clicking finger.

    Claudia, I'm so glad you wrote in! Thank you so much for your lovely comments and no, you don't need to apologize at all. I really appreciate the trouble you've taken to write in. Thank you.
    And I hope you'll soon make that dream a reality. There's so much to see and experience in India that it is simply amazing. I think you will really enjoy it.

  14. Me too, Muhammad! And possibly for the very reason that you mentioned. With the water scarcity in Mumbai, I'm beginning to appreciate drought-tolerant trees and plants all the more.
    We do have a lot of cassia nodosas in Mumbai. Mostly lining the roads in the city but my photos were clicked in my garden. Frankly I prefer the colour variations on the blooms of cassia nodosa more than that on my cassia grandis but don't let my tree hear this, okay?

    Helen, I didnt know about the peach coloured cassia fistula! Do you have photos? Please, please post them if you do.
    And the Queen's Crepe Myrtle goes by so many names that its tough to keep track of all of them but Pride of India is quite apt, don't you think?

  15. Thanks, Rebecca :)
    The purple Pride of India also has a pink sister. And other shades of pink-mauve too.Its really spectacular in full bloom!

    Thanks Keats :)Yes, Mumbai is in full bloom now. Thank goodness that there are positive sides to Summer too :P

    Me too, Chandramouli. I cant wait for the monsoons to start! Just one more month to go hopefully. I've got to stock up on tender-coconut water!

  16. IHM, I hope you've posted those photos 'coz I'm rushing over to your blog right now to check them out.
    I love jacarandas too! I have one in my garden but it hasn't bloomed yet this year. I hope its not going to act temperamental!

  17. Thanks, Bindhu.
    I don't know but probably the fact that my curry leaf plants have reached the stage where they can be called 'trees' may have something to do with it. They're about 8-9 feet tall and are growing in full sun. Others growing in a more shaded area are not half as tall nor do they flower.

    Namaskar, Noel! :)
    Thanks, glad you enjoyed this post. and yes, I'm inclined to think that those are coral trees too.
    Thanks for the reminder... oh wait! that's today, isn't it? And its already 9.30 PM here. I'm so sorry... I think I'll catch up on the next one. Sorry!

  18. Perfectly said, Raji :)

    Mumbai does have its finer moments, doesn't it, GT? I guess we just have to look under all the steel and cement (or the dust and grime, as the case may be)to find it. And yes, even dreaded Summer has its sherbet moments :D

  19. Beautiful ! Loved that "strawberry icecream" bud !!!

    Here in Bangalore too, we are witnessing a glorious colour burst of yellow, orange, purple,red and mauve( among those trees that are still left standing by the Metro Work :-( )

  20. love the post, sunita! it is lovely to see all the trees in bloom at this time of the year, isnt it?!

  21. So pretty, when I was there I enjoyed the Flame tree flowers, everywhere we went.
    Didn't see the wonderful Queens crepe Myrtle unfortunately, but now my neighbour has a nice small shrub of Crepe Myrtle, not quite the same lovely colour, hers is more red than purple, still lovely though.

  22. Aaah... Bangalore! Yosee, my memories of Bangalore are coloured by nostalgia. I visited your beautiful city years and years ... and years ... ago and back then it was this very lovely place filled with trees and greenery and exactly the kind of place I would've loved to live in. Lucky you! I can just imagine the carnival those trees are having!

    Hi Arati! Thanks and you're right. It has to be the best part of Summer :)

    Hello Glennis! That must've been spectacular! The gul mohur in full bloom can make my spirits soar.
    The Crepe Myrtle shrub is just as pretty as its bigger cousin in its own way. The Queen's Crepe Myrtle can look a bit ugly when it sheds its leaves but when it is bloom ....!

  23. Love the colours of summer part II on your blog. Summer heat really brings the trees alive with such vibrant coloured flowers. And such a relief for the eye ( besides the shade the trees provide) on a hot summer day. If only more trees were spared!

  24. Sunita girl !
    There is so much LIFE happening where you live it would overwhelm me because I would be twirling around trying to take everything in .. the colours the structures the sounds .. it must be simply amazing : )
    I love trees .. and these ones you have show cased are so beautiful and so full of life ! ..
    A gorgeous post girl : )

  25. wow! what a collection you have there! Beautiful shots, that's for sure! I love the Golden Showers:) Thanks for the info as well. It really helps :)

  26. Absolutely, Radha! I wish we had more trees. Especially lining the roads in Mumbai. Traffic jams are such a major part of our life here that at least waiting in the shade of some wide-canopied tree would make it so much better.

  27. Joy, all those blooming trees do have that effect on one :D
    Our trees are beautiful! Amazingly colourful and the flowers and ruit attract so many butterflies and birds that one can spend hours just watching the drama around them!

  28. Thanks, Fini! I love the Gloden Showers too. They're the first tree that gives us a clue of the carnival of colours waiting for us :)

  29. Sunita & Yosee,

    I've been clicking away in bangalore - the trees are full of colour at this time!! yellow, red, pink, lavendar, orange.. we seem to have it all! :)


  30. Oh to see those golden showers..our April memories were filled with those and saw those in Delhi during June-July!

  31. The flowers you posted are also common here in the Philippines, but they seem so different because you posted great compositions of your photos. Even the Mimosa in your old post was lovely, when in fact it is just an ordinary obnoxious weed on roadsides. I am so disappointed that most of the photos came in so pixelized that i cannot complete the appreciation. I wonder why that happened!

  32. Thank you Sunita! A gardening friend of ours here, has
    been doing backn'forth with seeds/ bulbs and rhizomes in India. Will check back and let you know if BIris' have worked. If so I would be happy to send you some!
    You have covered all the it time for the 'palas'= flame of the forest anywhere nere? :-)

  33. ?, what an unusual user-name! :)
    The Golden Showers are special, aren't they? Once you've seen them, you'll never get that image out of your mind.
    And I'd love to hear whether your friend's experiments with the Iris worked. I love it when someone tries to grow something which the books say will not grow there!
    Sorry about the Flame of the Forest... its season was around March. I'll have to wait till next year to enjoy it again.

  34. Andrea, I think we share the same climate, etc. And I'm sure that most of the plants and trees in my blog must look very familiar to you.
    I'm so sorry about the pixelated photos but that's probably because I'm using an ordinary point and shoot camera which can not zoom in too far.
    I agree about the mimosa ... my mom will probably roll her eyes when she sees those photos of the pesky weed. But honestly, I love the different perspective that a macro gives.

  35. Oh.. wow Sunita! Lovely pics!! thanks for sharing :)
    Everyday... i 'm enjoying the lineup of Jacarandas, Peltophorum, Raintrees, and the lovely Lagerstroemias.. in shades of pink and puprle.And the Gulmohurs are here too. Thanks for this lovely post! I knew what to expect just looking at the title :)

  36. Loved the pink buds! and the Rain tree is my favourite!!

  37. Arati, I wish I could see the trees in bloom in Bangalore! I guess I just have to hop over to your site ... dont you just love blogdom!

  38. Jacarandas ... ! I missed them in my post. Thanks, Priya :)
    I had planted a pink Queen's Crepe Myrtle too in my garden but it has never bloomed till today. I'm so disappointed. The Raintree is one of my favourites too.

  39. What a spectacular tribute to summer! Just came back from Madras, where the trees are abloom as well.

  40. You were not kidding about the trees being abloom! Gorgeous! Exotic!

  41. Kamini, were the gul-mohurs in bloom there?
    I think I developped my love for the Rain Tree when I was in college in Chennai. The extreme heat and blazing sunshine of Chennai in summer was totally new to me and the cool shade of the rain trees was so lovely!

    Carol this has to be the one saving grace of summer in Mumbai :P

  42. Nice collection of flowers with information.

  43. hi, very good article. have you noticed that more than 100 Copper pod tree - Yellow abundance have been badly infected by some kind of FUNGUS and have dried or dying since last 6 months along the Lower Parel to Deonar stretch . would you be able to do something to save them. I live in Chembur, please let me know if I can be of any assistance to save them.

    1. Thank you, Shilpa, so glad you enjoyed this post :)

      I did read about the 'mystery disease' that has been killing hundreds of trees across the city but I had no idea that there were so many on this route. Are they all Copper Pod trees which have been affected? So heartbreaking!
      Reports did say that the Tree Authority is already working on finding a cure for them. I hope they do that really soon.

  44. Hi sunitha, shal i cal u sunu bcoz my sister's name is also sunitha itself. i m seeing dese flowers n trees from my childhood on roadside witout knowing d names of dem. i miss my mom and dad who r nomore. but wenever m disapponted and depressed these cute flowers will make my mind to open up and make me to do a fresh start. thank u for yo awesome pictures and also making me to know the names of the flowers too.
    thanks again.....

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post and found it useful, Namitha. Flowering trees are the best! One can get so much of enjoyment by just looking at them.
      The internet is a very useful resource. Anytime that you want to find out the names of other trees not mentioned here, just look it up on any search engine site. All the best!


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