Bangalore Environment Trust Newsletter, January 1999
Sat, 03/03/2007 - 09:56 — admin
Trees of Bangalore - African Tulip Tree
Another striking flowering tree In Bangalore is the Scarlet -
Bell tree, the Fountam. Squirt or Syringe Tree. All these
different names are based on some striking character of the plant.
Scarlet-Bell refers to its large. bell-shaped. bright scarlet
coloured flowers Fountain, squirt or syrtnge signify the fact that
water comes out like a squirt when the large green water-filled
buds are squeezed. The name African Tulip Tree refers to the
resemblance of its flower to that of Indian Tulip Tree (Thespesta
Populnea): and 'African' refers to its Origin from Central Africa.
It Is an exotic tree introduced into India from Angola in Africa
via Ceylon in lhe later part of the 19th century. It belongs to
the Btgnontaceae family thai is remarkable for including many of
the showy flowered plants t.hat we come across in our parks.
In Greek 'spathe' means a ladle, in allusion to the spathe-like
green calyx of the flower. In Latin campanulata means
bell-shaped, which is an epithet for its bell-shaped Ilowers.
It grows into a tall tree upto 20m height with a cover of
flowers for several months. It is evergreen in wetter areas
and becomes decidious for a short duration in drier areas. The
tree looks extraordinarily handsome wnh the dark-green crown
covered by large. bell-shaped. bright scarlet flowers,
It attains a good height in the environs of Bangalore. It has
large sized compound leaves. Just after the rains In August.
September flower buds covered over by thick leathery calyx
appear in clusters at the ends of the branches. These contain
watery fluid and are much sought after by children for playing
as water-squirts. The large flowers are a rich store of
nectar. so a variety of
birds gather on these flowering trees to have a Sip of the
delicious nectar. and in the process pollinate the flowers. It is
strange that the tree does not flourish in Bombay and in many
other cities in India. But in Bangalore large woody frutts are
produced. which on ripening burst open to scatter thousands or
papery-like winged seeds. which are carried away far off by wind.
Bangalore has become a second home to thts species where its
flowering. and fruiting and growth patterns resemble thc
characters observed in its nalive home in Central Africa.
The African Tulip Tree is both a shade and ornamental tree and is
well-suited for planting in parks and along roads ill cities. It
grows fast and is one or the finest avenue trees.
B.G. Neginhal I.F.S. (Retd.)
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