Wednesday, March 30, 2016

.......a poem as lovely as a tree!

Joyce Kilmer summed it up best in "Trees"--beginning with Ï think I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree"and ending with "poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree"! The beauty and variety of trees never fail to amaze and soothe, as we re-discovered on yet another "tree walk" (will write about the earlier ones in the course of time!) at the Jahapannah  city forest (part of the ancient Ridge) led by a passionate and very knowledgeable tree expert, Ms.Kavita Prakash. In her easy, interactive manner, she led us, as always, along a route (which she always takes the trouble to check out and plan beforehand) with common (and not so common!) trees that we pass by, sometimes notice, but don't know anything about! She stops to point out special features, encourages us to touch and bond with the tree, gives a gist of its origin and uses...etc etc. At the beginning of the walk, each one is given a list of the trees that will be covered, along with a page reference to a classic work "Trees of  Delhi"by Pradeep Kishen (more of that later!) so that one can look up details. She also carries along "goodies"in the shape of a leaf/fruit/etc (which may not be visible in the season) to touch and feel.

Some of the trees we saw are natives of  the region, while others have come from far away lands, though non native trees tend to cause an imbalance in nature.
 We learnt about: the Lasora (the Bird Lime tree), Dhak (Parrot tree, self explanatory!), Katsagon, Ronjh, Cabbage palm, Saptaparni (named after its 7 leaves together), Buddha's coconut (popularly known as the Mad tree!), Subabool, Vilaiti Keekar, Maharukh (also known as the Maha neem), Khair, Siris (rattle pod!) Earpod wattle and of course, the Banyan. Kavita also pointed out trees not on the list....Mulberry, Footstool palm, Ritha and Kachnar, among others.

And here's some trivia gleaned from the walk!
The Dhak is the state tree of Jharkhand, where it grows in plenty. It is worshipped in Telengana, while there is a tree outside every Brahmin's house in Kerala!

The Katsagon has ringed rods, and protruding flower stalks to attract bats. Its wood is termite resistant.

The solitary Cabbage palm had been rescued from a barbed wire, thanks to Kavita who had noticed it earlier! It has a very fragrant smell, and so a great attraction for bees.

The Saptaparni is known as the blackboard tree, as its wood is used to make slates. It is also wrongly termed the Devil's tree (Shaitan ka jhar in Hindi) due to the frantic activity at night among its branches! Reason: the flowers bloom at night and attract insects, which in turn attract bats! It has an overbearing smell and large amounts of pollen, so very allergenic and unsuitable for those with respiratory problems.

The Banyan tree is the national tree of India, and signifies immortality and survival. Since it symbolises life and fertility, it is not cut, but worshipped by childless couples. It is also known as Akshay Vat, and was described by the ancient Chinese traveller to India, Huen Tsang.

It was a pleasant morning, and a couple of hours well spent in learning about and admiring the colors, texture (and sometimes, smells) of Nature.

If you are in Delhi, do join in a tree walk with Kavita (see details of her regular walks on

or with Pradeep Kishen (rare, and generally through India Habitat Center).

Cabbage palm
............only God can make a tree!

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