The world of trees is fascinating. A small glimpse of this was shown by Arun Kumar at NGMA,Bangalore.
NGMA the Manikyavelu Mansion of yesteryear’s has a wonderful set of trees in its premises.It boasts of both native and exotic varieties. We started the walk with a glimpse of Sandalwood tree ,native to India with its pale green and white leaves. Many know about this tree, but what one might not know is that it can turn out to be a parasitic tree sucking up nutrients from other nearby roots. However it is also capable of deriving its own food through photosynthesis. Arun mentioned that while planting the saplings,they are often teamed up with legume plants like toor dal for optimum growth.
The Kokum Tree was next,it is indigenous fruit tree found plenty in Western Ghats.It has earned a GI tag especially the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Karnataka. Then we were shown the Fish Tail Palm-a palm tree that grows to a height and so named because of the shape of its leaves. An interesting thing we learnt about this ,’ Once the lower rung of tree starts to flower the tree dies.In other words the flowering and fruiting process leads to death of plant.
Cassias were plenty. The pink flowers of Javanica,yellow flowers of fistula were perhaps introduced by Krumbiegel as part of serial blossoming of city. The leaves we noted were pinnate with 12 pairs of leaves arranged on its axis.
The Fern Tree native to Western Ghats is often used in landscape.It has an interesting leaf arrangement. Leaves are pinnate and leaf spine has prominent leafy wings.
Ficus trees were plentiful. Arun shared a couple of characteristics common to ficus trees-the milky sap,the aerial roots found in many and unique pollination i.e dependent on wasp. The Peepal tree that we saw had a lot plants underneath -there were saplings of fern,rain tree,amrutha Bali-Tinospora cordifolia etc. This was courtesy of birds that came to eat the fruits. A surprising thing about most of the fig trees is the staggering fruit cycle that they follow. The city has number of ficus trees that are most often full of berry like fruits- a feast for birds.The fruiting of fig trees is quick thanks to wasp which is due to wasp’s short adult life ensuring a steady supply of fruit.
The Octopus tree with its compound leaves is a unique tree in the city. It has maroon colored flowers and grow outwards and perhaps the shape of them has inspired an alternative name to the tree-the umbrella tree.
We also saw a Bhadraksh tree with fruits and seeds similar to Rudraksh tree but without any openings in its seeds. The African Tulip tree with its buttressed roots had grown quite tall. One reason-the nearby trees had overshadowed the Tulip and perhaps in search of sunlight it had grown tall. The buttressed trunk gave the necessary mechanical strength to the tree.
Next we met the False Asoka tree whose leaves when crushed gave a fruity smell. The fact that it belonged to Custard Apple family may have something to do with it. The tree is pollinated by bats and is an effective noise barrier.
The Indian Coral Tree,the Wood Apple and Jungal Jalebi-Manila Tamarind were other interesting trees. The Mysore Clock Vine native to Mysore was also known as Doll’s Shoes due to its flower shape.
The walk that lasted for 1.5 hours was quite insightful. Coupled with the fact that we were on the premises of a 100 year old mansion that was in 3.5 acres of greenery and silence made it a delightful way of spending a Sunday morning.