Bursts of orange, yellow

Bursts of orange, yellow


Bursts of orange, yellow

You can’t miss the two trees, the African tulip and Nile tulip, thanks to their large bright flowers. They are excellent shade-giving trees, writes Rashmi Shrinivas.

While it is a general perception that big cities have become concrete jungles, it is heartening to note that some cities continue to have a lot of greenery around, in spite of fast growth. In cities like Bangalore, a lot of lung space is provided to the citizen by way of parks, gardens and stadiums with tree lining, etc.

Roads are bordered with luxuriant trees. Compounds of educational institutions as well as IT/BT/other MNC and Indian companies, factories and hospitals are all rich with well nourished trees and plants. Two trees that hardly go unnoticed because of their large bright flowers by morning walkers and even those totally disinterested in nature alike are African tulip and Nile tulip trees that are found in abundance as road lining trees and also in parks!

African tulip tree or fountain tree, botanically known as spathodea campanulata belonging to the family Bignoniaceae, is a native of Africa, as the name suggests. But it is commonly found in India too as an ornamental tree. This large tree reaching a height of about 30-40 ft on the road side, bears large reddish orange flowers in clusters. The name spathodea refers to the tree’s spathe-like flowers; campunalata refers to the bell-shaped flowers. It is called neerukai mara in Kannada probably because its bud holds water in it. This fast growing tree has short branches with large leaves.

This tree plays the role of an ornamental tree as well as a shade giving tree and is most sought after by home owners. The fruit, green in colour and boat shaped, dehisces (when ripens and attains dark brown colour) to disperse a large number of seeds, which germinate easily. The thick trunk is soft and hence many birds make it a home by pecking a hole in it. It is visited by squirrels and birds like parakeets. The shell of the dry fruit looks like a small boat. The only disadvantage is that the large number of flowers that fall create a mess on the ground. The tree is a nice shade-giving one and you can enjoy its spectacular blooms from September to January!

The other tree, Nile tulip, reaches a moderate height of about 15-20 ft when planted on road side. Botanically known as markhamia lutea, dolichandrone lutea etc, it belongs to the family Bignoniaceae, much like the African tulip tree. This tree is named after a 19th-century British botanist and lutea refers to yellow flowers. The bright yellow cluster of trumpet-shaped flowers with light brown fine lines on the inner surface of each flower are eye-catchers! This fast growing tree too is much preferred by the residents to grow in front of their house because of its large number of bright flowers. In addition, it grows in any type of well drained soil and needs little maintenance. When pollinated and fertilised, the flower turns into long slender green fruit, full of white winged seeds that disperse in air (when the fruit dries and curls) and germinate wherever they fall.