26 January 2023

Tree With Story

Ever so often, on ThursdayTreeLove, we hear the words, if only this tree could tell its story... Especially when its an old stalwart holding its own. 

Today is 26th January, celebrated in India as the Republic Day. An important landmark in my country's freedom.

It seems a good day to write about this particular Peepal tree or Ficus religiosa of the Moraceae family. 

Since our bloghop is about trees, I will very briefly touch upon the history (not doing it the justice it deserves) and the story the tree has to tell. I have added some links for anyone interested to read more. Google will also help!! 

I saw this massive old Peepal at the Mamledar Kacheri in Pune which is a government office related to land records. Everyone coming there keen on finishing their work and rushing off, possibly only looking at this tree as a spot to shelter from the Sun. 

Umaji Naik was a revolutionary who fought against rule of the British from around 1826-1832 inflicting great damage . To cut a long story very short, the British captured him and he was imprisoned, tried. On 3 Feb 1832, Umaji Naik was hanged at the above mentioned premises from the Peepal tree. Thereafter, he was left there for three days in order  to deter people from more revolts. 

This tree is indeed a witness and participant in our freedom struggle. It stands to remind us of how our fore fathers fought so that we are free and independent today.

You can read more about Umaji Naik in this Wikipedia article and about his life here

The Peepal grows in one corner of the premises. Offering cooling shade to visitors

People end up sitting under the tree little realising its part in our freedom struggle.

There is a small sign post on the tree which states that Umaji Naik was hung from this tree

14 January 2023

Unsual (ThursdayTreeLove)

Again a ThursdayTreeLove post thats not on a Thursday! I am sure dear TTL readers will not mind! 

My tree today is quite common and most of you from India will know  and recognise it. It is the Ber or Zizyphus of the Rhamnaceae family. I have not identified the tree to the specific epithet so I will stick to just Zizyphus. 

The reason I am sharing it is because it was an unusually huge tree. Pune has many many Ber. In home gardens, public gardens, on the hills and even on the highways that lead out of the city. But they are usually up to one storey tall. 

 Those of who have read my earlier posts, know I was on a cycling tour in Assam. After finishing our ride for the day we enjoyed  a lovely and unique Bodo lunch at a small island resort near the Chandubi Lake. I noticed this large tree due to the benches that were lined up in its cool shade. They invited us to lie down a bit and rest and look up at the beautiful sky. 

That's when I realised it was a Ber. It was about two storeys tall and its branches were groaning with fruit. The three veined leaves with a shiny underside easily gave away the identity. 

Looking up..

Is this a triple trunk tree or 3 separate ones? 

The benches are seen.. inviting cyclists to rest

Fruit and leaf 

We have often taken refuge from the Sun or rain under the Mango, Ficus or Tamarind trees, It was my first instance of napping under a grand Ber tree. Unusual and Restful!

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove bloghop. Do head over to see trees from around the world. Better still, join in.

24 December 2022

Grand (ThursdayTreeLove)

At the outset, here's Wishing All of You a Very Happy Healthy and Tree-mendous 2023. 

Today I have a (new to me) tree that I (feel proud to have identified) spotted in our recent cycling expedition in Assam. 

As we walked towards this beautiful waterfall (Yes, some walking was also a part of the cycling tour :-) ) the drooping branches and what seemed like dry fruit immediately caught my eye. 

The tree was very tall and its fairly thick trunk grew absolutely straight for quite some distance. The branches were too high to touch any leaf or branch. I could barely see opposite fairly large leaves and new ones looked red. 
Drooping branches
None of the locals seemed to know its name. 

24 November 2022

Cycle Explorations

Being on the wrong side of the fifties brings more than silver glints to hair... And my knee suitably reminded me of this. That put paid to my dream trek to the Valley of Flowers or ambitious EBC. However as my Ortho Doc freely permitted cycling, I found new options opening up. 

Having spent up to five years in the North East, Assam had a special place in our lives . On Facebook, I had seen Bishwajit (Jitda) pedaling across this state. The curated routes of the Brahmaputra Cycling Expedition  were attractive and seemed doable to me. After Jitda cleared all my doubts, we decided to take the (metaphoric) plunge and signed up for the tour. 

Note: This is NOT a sponsored post.

Being a weekend cyclist meant I had to focus on daily cycling to be able to complete the tour. Even though the monsoon chose to stay longer in Pune, we managed to train. I got a good idea of my endurance, and even increased it to an extent. The more difficult part was in choosing the right clothing for our tour, saddle covers, compact packing (is there such a thing?????) and so on. 

Sigh.. it was easier to cycle...

Along side, I was researching plants that I was likely to see. I prepared notes, local names and created my own reference guide for the tour. This helped to some extent but since we had cell phone connectivity all through, I often referred to Flowers of India. My study was vital as we were planned to do a forest walk at Kakoijana (home to the endangered Golden Langur) and were visiting the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (Manas is a world heritage site). As it happened, we made an unplanned visit to the Pobitora Sanctuary as well! 

We worked our way through the rain fury in Pune, packing travails and D day arrived. Armed with good wishes of friends and family we reached Guwahati and met our enthusiastic co cyclists! A diverse interesting group of all ages and backgrounds. The next week looked very promising.

I had to make 'friends' (and quickly) with 'my' cycle and it was reassuring to interact with the BCE team who adjusted cycles for all of us. The back up logistics support and the bus were superb and gave me confidence and helped overcome last minute doubts. 

10 November 2022

Temple Tree (ThursdayTreeLove)

Recently we visited the Ashtavinayak temples and we drove on wonderful roads and met almost nil crowds at the temples which meant peaceful unhurried 'darshan'. 

(Ashtavinayak are eight Ganapati temples and traditionally are visited in a specific order. Each has a unique history and unique idol. The idols are all swayanbhu which means self manifested.)

All being Ganesha temples I expected to see the Shami tree -- Prosopis cineraria of the Mimosaceae family. This tree is very common in Rajasthan but not so common here in Pune. Shami leaves are said to be a favourite of Lord Ganesha and are offered in worship especially during Ganesh Utsav as part of the Patri. It is a small tree with conical thorns. Leaves are small and blue green in colour.

Here are some images (in random order) of the Shami trees I saw in our trip. One of them was actually enclosed in a 'cage' possibly to protect it from people randomly plucking leaves to offer to the deity. 

Shami tree at Morgaon's Shri Mayureshwar  Ganapati

Prosopis cineraria

Hibiscus is also said to be Ganesha's favourite and huge Hibiscus garlands were on sale at Siddhatek's Shri Siddhivinayak Ganapati

27 October 2022

Fort Tree (ThursdayTreeLove)

 My tree for today is not a new species to all of you tree lovers.. yet I am sharing these images just for the spectacular trunks they have achieved. 

Without much ado.. here are the images of the Chafa (thats the local marathi name) or Plumeria of the Apocynaceae family. Sadly none of the trees were in bloom so I have to stop at identification at the Genus level. This is an introduced species in India and it flowers profusely but rarely fruits in Pune. However I have seen the Plumeria fruit in Gurgaon. It is also called the Temple tree or Frangipani. 

25 September 2022

Cat's Claw (ThursdayTreeLove)

This post is not on a Thursday but , dear readers, do excuse the lapse on my part!! 

Last weekend, I went on a Tree Walk after a long break..  the pandemic had put brakes on many activities and this was one of them. It was wonderful to reconnect with other tree lovers and meet everyone. 

We visited the SP College which is a very old and prestigious educational institute in Pune. Established in 1916, but naturally it has several old and unique species. It is a great place for tree spotting. 

These are photos outside the main building.