On a hot and humid summer day I went to the Botanical Garden in search of Tabebuiya (Tababuia triphylla). I was rather surprised to see the abundance of the flowers on quite a good number of trees. I was under the impression that these species were extinct in Dhaka. I am thankful to Botanical Garden for taking measures to conserve these delicate treasures. Incidentally, this beautiful tree has been blooming with flowers for the last two years at Ramna Park. Tabebuiya can also be found at the Atomic Commission in Savar.
I came across Garjan (Dipterocarpus spp) right after the second gate of entry of Botanical Garden. I caught sight of a heap of flowers on the ground, the trees were pretty tall with straight stems and the flowers bloom on the tree top. I was dying to take a photograph of the flowers atop the tree but could not figure out how I could reach that height. At last I convinced a boy named Manik who frequented this place after his school to pick a few so I could take photos of Tabebuiya and Garjan.
I also came across the sweet-scented koiner (Gardenia coronaria) flowers on that trip. The colours of summer flowers are equally charming. Krisnachura (Delonix regia) is the most prominent flower of summer followed by Jarul (Lagerstroemia speciosa). Sonalu (Cassia fistula) these days are not very common. In our childhood we used to make garlands with Sonalu. Those trees started disappearing as we grew up. They were cut down either because they took too long to grow or for making strong pillars. The Sonalu has almost disappeared even in the rural areas.
Now let us go back to the Tabebuiya. They are of medium height; two varieties are available in our country. The not-too-long stem looks grey and the tree top has scattered branches. The leaves are oval shaped, smooth and pale green. The flowers are not easily visible as they hide behind the leaves. Besides, the flowers are very short lived and that’s why they are more easily found on the ground under the tree. Though odourless, Tabebuiya for this very trait is close to Sheuli (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis) and Kolke (Thevetia peruviana). The fruits are long, narrow and deep brown. The seeds are of oval shape. Originating from Brazil, the flowers are used for worshipping and as hair ornaments. Sonalu remains leafless throughout spring looking quite dead with no indication of its summer glamour when it is adorned with an abundance of flowers. The Sonalu buds peep out in the bare branches when spring is busy winding up. Quite a few rows of Sonalu can be seen near the Osmani Memorial Auditorium and National Assembly Building. Sonalu was not that common even a few decades back. These trees (Classia Fistula) have other names: sonail, bandarlathi, honalu etc. The most prominent feature of this tree is its hanging inflorescence and yellow flowers. Such a combination is really rare. The yellow cascade of Sonalu is unique. Therefore, the English name “Golden Shower” is quite appropriate.
Jarul is an intimate species of greater Bengal. Along with the red of Krisnachura and yellow of Golden Shower, the blue beauty of Jarul is charming and soothing. The beauty of Jakaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) is no less though they are not very common. Jarul has gained popularity because of its availability, abundance, durability and beauty. Jibananda Das mentions her beauty in many of his poems. Though Jarul is aquatic, it can survive on dry land as well, hence its abundance in Dhaka. Jarul can be seen in in front of Rokeya Hall, on the north of VC’s residence of Dhaka University, Ramna and Sohrawardy Garden. The stem of Jarul is of medium length, smooth, greyish and the top is umbrella shaped with a lot of twigs. The leaves are long, wide and deep green. Mature leaves are often reddish. At the end of spring the bare branches are covered with bright green leaves and soon afterwards the flowers start blooming. The bright violet flowers in the backdrop of deep green leaves are really unique.
Pterocarpus indicus is exclusive for its profuse yet short blossom. One fine morning the yellow flowers will illuminate the whole tree, and the air will be filled with fragrance. Surprisingly, there will be no trace of the flowers the very next morning. The fallen flowers on the ground will bear evidence to the blossom. Despite a brief blossom, this tree is unparallel in its texture, colour and grandeur. Botanist Dwijen Sharma has mentioned spring as the flowering season. Their blossom, of course, is not limited to spring alone. I have seen a profuse blossom at the beginning of summer. In 2008, I was on the look out for another blossom of the flower. The tree flowered more or less the same time but less in number than the previous year. Flowers were hidden behind the leaves only to be traced by an avid observer of nature. Pterocarpus indicus are huge, tall trees. There is a neat row of this species along Hare Road while others are scattered in some other places of Dhaka. The tree originated from Malay and Myanmar. These can be ideal as street trees for their straight stem and rapid growth.
Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) came to Bangladesh quite some time ago. Compared to the length of arrival, the growth of this variety is unsatisfactory, water logging being the main culprit. In the last two years Dhaka has lost two huge trees. I am not sure what went wrong with the trees. A few big Jacarandas can be found at the south to the entrance of Prime Minister’s office. It is a single or multi-stemmed tree; open canopied. The body is light grey; the leaves resemble those of Krisnachura but are decorative. The leaves will not attract the onlookers but the violet flowers certainly will. The flowers bloom from April-May. The blue patches of Jacaranda brings a different look in red (krisnachura) and light violet (Jarul) summer flowers. Blue represents distance in the realm of colours in nature. The other flowers of summer are Udaypadma (Magnolia grandiflora), Sornochampa (Michelia champaca), Gondhoraj (Gardenia jasminoides). All of them are sweet-scented flowers.