Hibiscus: Showy Red Flowers

The summer has set in the earnest in North India now. The spring flowers are withering away and soon grass also shall be discolored. The land shall become parched and dry. It is still good here in the morning.

These days Hibiscus shrubs are in full bloom and laden with bright red color flowers. Many people are seen plucking them for offerings before the Gods in their homes and temples. They think Gods are confined to the places where we have placed them and cannot go out and watch and appreciate their own creation themselves. I think they won’t recommend plucking the flowers.

Anyway, as usual I went for walk slightly late. It was seven of clock and Sun was up for sometime now. The buds of these flowers opened gloriously to welcome the sun and spread beauty all around.

Hibiscus is a genus of mallow family, Malyaceae. It is quite large, containing several hundred species that are native to warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world. Member species are often noted for their showy flowers and are commonly known simply as hibiscus, or less widely known as rose mallow

It is favorite flower of Goddess Kali and Lord Ganesha. In Assam India, the shrubs grow very large and voluminous and each tree may bear hundreds of flowers. The leaves of the plant are said to be beneficial in many diseases. Hibiscus tea is also good for health.

I took some pictures of the showy flowers and I am putting them here.

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Bottlebrushes in Bloom

It is the spring season here. The nature has broken its hibernation of freezing cold and there is a thaw in the season. The plants and trees after shedding the old leaves are adorning themselves with fresh light green leaves. Within days the skeleton branches are covered with leaves. The days are becoming longer and hot. Soon it will become very hot and unbearable.

The weather in India are not uniform and every 3 months weather changes. This is why the natives here are in continuous struggle with the weather. There are extremes of weather in North India. This gives India a vast variety of vegetation.

The bottlebrush trees also called Callistemon so called because their shape resembles the brush used to clean the bottles. These days the trees are laden with these flowers of red color. There is a strong contrast between the rich green leaves and these flowers which hang like garlands on the tree.

All day long different animals and birds visit these trees to lick the pollen from the flowers. First in the morning are monkeys especially their kids which can easily reach the ends of the branches where the flowers are located. They eat the nutritious pollen and then snap the flowers from the branch. After this parrots come in big groups. They chatter, make noise and lick the pollen. They are the worst and break most of the flowers and the ground beneath is littered with fresh broken flowers.

Nightingales also come. If you look closer you will find the honey bees hovering around the flowers. There is a continuous buzz. They are the gentlest and use the flowers to make honey-one of the nature’s best gift to us.

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Flowers Parade

As soon as the winter went away and yielded its place to Spring season, the nature which has been lying  dormant, has put up the best show in the form of flowers of all colors. In fact, there is a riot of colors. Plants, shrubs and trees, none of them wants to be left behind in bearing beautiful flowers and contribute to the show. Flowers of contrasting colors, shapes and sizes. The trees flower slowly and till late when here in India till the sweltering Summer sets in.

One thing, I noticed about the pattern of blooming was that trees tried to put up the Show not simultaneously but with time gaps. This is akin to fashion show in which the models occupy the ramp one after the other to show their assets. The reason may be that they wanted to keep us in pleasant mood for longer time by keeping the aesthetics of the surroundings. Another reason may be that they might be avoiding competition to avoid comparisons beholders draw because they (trees) may be aware of the adage “comparisons are odious!”.

So, first of all came beautiful golden yellow Amaltas flowers with the scientific name Cassia Fistula. Before the trees burst into flower bunches, most of them saw to it that they were completely devoid of leaves and their branches looked like skeletons. Bunches of flowers began hanging from the branches like garlands. Only after some days the leaves also come along.

Along with the Amaltas also blossomed the Peltophorum pterocarpum (‘Copperpod, Golden Flamboyant, Yellow Flamboyant, Yellow Flame Tree, Yellow Poinciana) with yellow small flowers. They are not as showy as Amaltas. The foliage of trees is very thick and flowers look like stars in the green colored sky. By this time the Amaltas flowers have lost their sheen.  All day these flowers fall to the ground and heaps of them collect or are swept here and there by the wind.

After this began the show by Pride of India, Queen Crape Myrtle, Hindi: Jarul जरुल , Manipuri: Jarol and botanical name is Lagerstroemia speciosa. The flowers are purple colored bunches peeking from the thick branches. The path turns purple with the fallen flowers as if some naughty child had spilled the blue inkpot.  These are very big trees and flowers are partially covered behind the leaves.

Now the April has begun. The heat is terrible. The flowers are withering away. Amaltas flowers have been bleached white by the Sun. Others are also fading. But the Last challenge is not over. Only a few days earlier, Gulmohur trees have begun blooming. And everyone knows how showy they are. The trees become like flames and seem to mocking the Sun. These trees are also very high. The flowers are all over the tree which have thin leave density.

Short but Beautiful Life

It is necessary that a long age is always for an eventful life. Sometimes a short life can be eventful and spread happiness within a short span. One such case is the flowers of Barringtonia tree. These trees bear red colored jellyfish like tiny flowers in bunches from the racemes. There are about ten trees near our home and in every morning a great spectacle unfolds.

These flowers have a very short lifespan. They are on the branches for 4-5 hours only. They bloom in the night. The buds bulbs swell in the evening and flowers come out. By the time it is midnight all the branches are loaded with flower bunches. There is a sweet scent in the warm air under these trees.

It is early morning. The Sun has not risen yet but the golden light is spreading from the East. The magic is about to unfold. The flowers from the branches start detaching first in ones or twos but soon the falling of the flowers turns into a rain. The flowers are showering and soon the whole area blow the tree is carpeted red. It seems that some lover has spread flowers to welcome his beloved.

The process of cascading down is not simultaneous and one tree begins after some time lapse with another. The whole process lasts for 3-4 hours. Not a single flowers remains hanging on trees. Only empty racemes hang like threads. The Sun is blazing now and its harsh rays are turning the heat on. Soon it becomes like a oven. The delicate flowers are roasted and not a trace is left on the ground.

But the process for next day begins again around afternoon when the buds again swell and are ready to burst into flowers. During this short span these trees give the beholders an immense sense of joy and awe.

I also tried to shoot a video but quality did not come good. This videos is available on youtube in my account.

It is Green All Around

The effect of Spring season is different on different species of trees. Some are in great hurry and begin to change their habits at the earliest. Some are very patient and wait on and begin to sprout the beautiful transparent light colored leaves when the leaves of the early starters have already become dull and dark green.

Banyan trees are different. I saw them shed copious quantities of the dry leaves daily with the help of strong breeze. When they became almost skeletons, new copper colored leaves come out all over the tree. The trees look to be made of copper.

There are other trees which do not bring out leaves at all but flowers. Very beautiful golden color bunches hang from the skeleton of branches. The flowers can be seen against the azure skies as backdrop. Another category brings forth both leaves as well as flowers.

What do these trees ask from us? Except a little care when they are small and tender, not to be tinkered with unnecessarily. They give us everything without asking. First of all, all the carbon dioxide which animals generate daily through there metabolism and other means of comfort like factories, electric appliances etc, is taken over by these trees and plants. They eat it and convert it into glucose and higher carbohydrates and release oxygen. These are the things which animals survive on. Thus we see that animals and plants are dependent on one another. So if we release carbon dioxide which exceeds what is required by plants then we have carbon dioxide that causes problems like breathing discomfort and acts as a trap for heat which is generated on the Earth and causes heating. To obviate this we have to have more plants.

Today I took some more photos. Please look closely.

Cool and Fragrant Shade of Unknown Tree

Heat is building up rapidly and temperature is shooting up. Many trees like Amaltas, Gulmohur and cannonball are bearing beautiful flowers which seem to challenge the Sun‘s assault on the mother earth. Earth is parching up. The delicate flowers of spring season have begun to wither. Soon the grasses will be gone. The hills have become devoid of greenery. Every tree, plant and animal shall be looking up hands raised towards heavens.

In the morning, during walks, body begins to perspire profusely and within minutes you feel exhausted.The runnels of perspiration run though the back. The body desires for cool shades and water to rejuvenate.

I have found this tree during my walks. Its branches are covered with corpulent newly born leaves which are light green and shiny. The shade is very thick and cool. The boughs are laden with bunches of cream colored small flowers. These flowers fall like rain from the branches and ground is carpeted with them. There are birds which dart in and out of the boughs. I think they come here attracted by the cool shade fragrance of these flowers.

You will like to sit beneath the cool shade of these tree. Or you lie down and stare into its beautiful resplendent leaves and listened to the singing of the birds. The same air which is heating up due to the heartless sun becomes cool breeze under the shade and refresh your senses. Here are some of photographs.

Golden Flowers: Amaltas

Plants did not have the flowers in the beginning. But there were massive herbivorous dinosaurs which guzzled mountains of plants in a day. Since the plants have not evolved flowers and hence seeds for propagation, they felt threatened with extinction. So they evolved flowers and instruments of sexual reproduction were established. Still there was problem for cross pollination. Plants came out with another strategy for transporting the pollen from one flower to another. They used insects like bees and flies as the vehicles for carrying the pollen. But why shall the insects do such chores for free. To award them the plants laced the flowers with sweet nectar and brilliant colors of petals to lure the insects. Bees in fact have acute visual power than humans. They can see in the ultraviolet range of the light spectrum which our eyes cannot. Whether color or not, there are cues or guiding arrows which plants have developed inside the flowers near the pollen.

Flower have great power over the human minds. Due to this they are used on all occasions from happiness to grief. In the marriages and on the dead bodies. They are offered in the worshiping places. All countries have one national flower. Flowers are the means for reproduction which is considered as the most pious activity. Flowers blossom in different seasons.

Normally maximum flowers are seen in the spring season when the winter is slowly receding giving way to the most pleasant season of spring which transits to the hot weather. In fact with each passing day, the heat is building up and vegetation begins to crumble. Flowers begin to wither because they are very delicate. But still there are certain trees which bloom in the heat. They seem to enjoy the heat and bear devil may care attitude to the Sun. In this process, they give us the moments to enjoy the nature’s glory.

Amaltas is one such tree which blooms during the onset of summer. It is called Cassia Fistula in the botanical language. The trees hardly bear any flowers. From the skeletons of the branches hang the beautiful bunches of golden colored flowers. Before becoming the full fledged flowers, the buds are like “Ghungroos” of gold.

The tree is the national flower of Thailand;  its yellow flowers symbolize Thai Royality. The golden shower tree is the state flower of Kerala state in India where the flowers are of ritual importance in the Vishu festival. The tree was made it to the 20 rupees stamp. It is also used in medicine.

There are eight to ten trees in our location and they are in full bloom as you can see them bursting forth with full glory.