Memories on Trees: Peltophorum

Peltophorum surely ranks high among the beautiful trees. That’s why it is so common. Around Korum Mall in Thane, they have planted more than 50 Peltophorums. If you stop on the flyover that goes above it, you see a beautiful spread of yellow flowers.

There was a big garden around our bungalow in the Tata Colony at Chembur in Mumbai. It was the first tree you met as you approached our bungalow. Peltophorum spreads yellow carpet of its flowers when in bloom, and it is impossible for a tree-lover not to look up without a smile.

I was a school going boy when we stayed there. Peltophorum was my very favourite tree to climb and park myself on a branch. The wood was reddish which invited me to take out the sharp instruments from my compass box and ‘engrave’ my name on the stem. Then I drew a circle around it to make it look like a stamp. The plant was my property!

An elderly person [seeing me sitting on a branch I guess] mentioned that no bird makes its nest on this tree except the crow! I confronted him the next day when he said that no native bird ever makes its nest on a tree of which natural habitat is not India! By implication, Peltophorum was a ‘foreign’ plant. This is not true, as Wikipedia claims, yet many people have this misconception.

Whenever I see a Peltophorum, my eyes look for a bird nest on its branches. I have never found any bird nest on this tree except the crow’s! A tag ['foreign' tree] is so difficult to erase! 

Vivek S Patwardhan

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