Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tabebuia paints the city pink

Tabebuia paints the city pink

Staff Reporter

This species was introduced 30 years ago

— Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Feast for eyes: A fully blossomed tabebuia tree at Cubbon Park in Bangalore.

Bangalore: If one thing sets tabebuia apart from most flowering trees is that the blooms appear after the tree turns completely leafless, making it eminently ornamental and almost reminiscent of a minimalist ikebana arrangement.

“You will notice how the deep pink flowers stand out against the dark bark tree,” points out S.G. Neginhal, former Indian Forest Service officer.

It was their ornamental quality that inspired Mr. Neginhal to introduce several tabebuia species in Bangalore 30 years ago, including the pink-flowered Tabebuia avellanedae that are now in bloom.

“Besides, they don’t grow tall and so can be grown beneath electrical cables,” he says. But as ubiquitous as they may be in the city, these trees are in fact exotic to the country, introduced from South America by the British in the late 1800s.

And Bangalore has the distinction of having the largest number of them, says Harish Bhat, a biodiversity expert.

“In fact, it is believed that the first tabebuia brought to India was introduced in Bangalore,” he adds.

Their visual appeal apart, tabebuias are not of much significant service to the ecosystem, says Dr. Bhat.

“The main reason for this is that they do not bear any edible fruits which attract birds.” But they are a certainly abuzz with swarms of honey bees and often sunbirds too, he says. The city has another couple of months to go before the delicate “pink trumpets”, as the flowers are commonly known, fall and carpet the ground.


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