Castles in the air - they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build, too.

आम्हां घरी धन शब्दांचीच रत्नें | शब्दांचीच शस्त्रें यत्न करुं ||
शब्द चि आमुच्या जीवांचे जीवन | शब्दें वांटूं धन जनलोकां ||
तुका म्हणे पाहा शब्द चि हा देव | शब्द चि गौरव पूजा करुं ||
- abhang of Tukaram Wolhoba Ambile of Dehu

There's No Freedom Like That of a Child's Imagination

கடலுக்கு உண்டு கற்பனைக்கு இல்லை கட்டுப்பாடு

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Five more scents in my perfumed garden

Keep the eyes sharp, and more flowers reveal themselves. As monsoon hangs in the air (what's keeping you from descending, man?), five more additions to my garden:

The first is a tiny red flowers that grows in our garden's side hedge - the coral plant or firecracker plant (Russelia equisetiformis; Hindi Rasili; Tamil no idea), because it looks like the red 'ladi' crackers that have to be burst in everything - marriages, political functions, visarjans, you name it.

The second is Chilar or Mysore thorn, apparently (Caesalpinia decapetala; Hindi ralan; Tamil kazharchi), which grows in the same side hedge as the above. I'm not sure - for this plant is supposed to flower in April-May, and it's June now. Maybe blooming late.

The great thing is I identified it with the help of Shrikant Ingalhalikar's Flowers of Sahyadri, which despite its claims, is a pretty useless field guide. I bought it in my ignorant days. If you want to look at pretty flower pictures, this is okay, but if you are thinking of identifying flowers, all the best. But this and the next flower were identified with this book, which I think is some, though inadequate, return on investment.

The third is Tetu or Tree of Damocles (Oroxylum indicum; Hindi manduk; Tamil pooththa-pushpam), called so because its sword-shaped fruit hangs dangerously over your head. I saw this in Santacruz-Khar area. I like this one for its thick, red fleshy flowers that bloom in the night and are pollinated by bats.

Fourth comes what I think is the Texas or Purple Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens). I saw the bushes growing upto 1 metre tall on Ghodbunder Road in uncultivated area, alongside Calotropis shrubs. But there could be other plants with big, purple flowers, since I could not see the leaf closely. Hope hawk-lady will help me out.

Finally comes the Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans), which grows in our hedge. This was a bonanza, for it was the fastest identified (or so I like to delude myself). The one I see has redder flowers than in the picture.

So I have five more scents in my perfumed garden.

But none more curious than Thespesia populnea, which has an interesting story to tell. Its flowers bloom yellow at first, telling bees that they are the freshest. When they have received pollen they turn pink-red, warning bees that business is over and no nectar is to be expected here.

Picture Credits:- Flowers of India, except Tetu, which is from this Vietnamese forest database.

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