Friday, July 02, 2010

Game for tree-some?

Game for tree-some?
There are 150 endemic varieties of trees that secretly nestle within the exotic green cover of the city. Here are some

The 584 gardens that luxuriously fan out in the city account for 30 per cent of its greenery, formed by both endemic and exotic species of trees. Over the last 40 years the former group is increasingly becoming rare given the invasion of exotic species such as Rain Tree, Gulmohar, African Tulip etc. Dr S G Neginhal, retired principal Chief Conservator of Forest, explains, “Previously the city had native species like Banyan, Fig trees and other ficus species. But with the expansion of the city, emphasis was being laid on ornamental species to enhance the beauty of the city. Hence the exotic species were chosen for planting along avenues.”
Sheshadri Ramaswamy, a field botanist with Hasiru Usiru, an NGO that deals with environmental issues, adds, “While both in the old Bangalore and the new BBMP areas the endemic trees have given way to exotic species, the outskirts of the city are still host to trees specific to the region.” Here are some of Bangalore’s native trees:

Botanical name: Gmelina arborea Origin: North-east India
THIS SPECIES, which is known to grow fast, is also known as avenue side tree, given that it is commonly planted on either side of the roads. It is also called the drought resistant tree. The Shivni tree, known for its weighty timber, is used in construction and furniture making industries. Of late, its timber has also been useful in constructing musical instruments and artificial limbs. Flowers of Shivni trees that are sweet in nature are used to treat blood diseases caused by snake and scorpion bites. They can be spotted on Vijaynagar and Magadi Road.

Botanical name: Pongamia pinnata Origin: Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
AFTER ATTRACTING the attention of researchers in recent times, Honge trees are now taken up for commercial cultivation. However, the tree commonly found in Bangalore and other adjoining districts are used for landscaping. The thick foliage of these trees is a natural windbreaker and offers cool shade. The oil extracted from the seeds of Honge trees are used as bio-diesel along with Jatropha seeds. Walk along K R Road when you wish to take refuge from the summer heat.

Botanical name: Madhuca longifolia Origin: Karnataka and Orissa
THIS SPECIES is well suited for arid environmental conditions. Ippe trees were planted at major road junctions and highways. As they are tall, Ippe trees are planted in the outer areas of the city. The fruits with thick and sharp pericarp are used as ‘tiger paws’ by children. Oil extracted from the seeds of Ippe trees are used for skin care products and in detergent and soap industries. Spot them on Magadi Road.

Botanical name: Ficus racemosa
Origin: Deccan Plateau
SACRED TO Hindus and Buddhists, Atti trees are used for medicinal purposes. They are known to grow up to 15-17 mts in height, and offer a large canopy. The trees are planted along several highways on the outskirts of the city. This fruit bearing tree is also termed as the queen of trees, and known to house monkeys. Atti fruits, though not commercially sold, are popular in the rural areas. The fruits are full of nutrients such as protein, fat, fiber calcium, phosphorous, potassium and vitamin C. They dot the west of Chord Road.

Botanical name: Syzygium oleosum
Origin: Western Ghats
THESE ARE small trees, largely planted in residential layouts and parks, and are known for their dark blue edible fruits. Nerale trees with its fruits draw flocks of various species of birds. The leaves are aromatic and fruits are used for making jams, and local wines. They can be seen in the neighbourhoods of Banashankari and Heggade Nagar.

Botanical name: Saraca asoca Origin: Western Ghats
COMMONLY KNOWN as the Flowering Ashoka tree, you may have rarely glimpsed the species, as it is overshadowed by the common Ashoka Tree. These trees, which were largely planted on the medians once, are now limited only to a few parks and streets such Lalbagh and Mt Carmel Road. Known for its beautiful foliage and fragrance, the tree is also used for medicinal purposes, particularly to treat gynecological disorders.


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