Badminton Ball Tree
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Badminton Ball Tree
ntroduced Photo: Dinesh Valke
Common name: Badminton Ball Tree, African locust tree, Gong-Stick Tree • Hindi: Chendul-Ka-jhar चेन्डुल का झाड़ • Kannada: ಶಿವಲಿಂಗದ ಮರ Shivalingada mara • Marathi: Chendu phul चेन्डुफूल
Botanical name: Parkia biglandulosa     Family: Mimosaceae (Touch-me-not family)

African locust tree is a tall handsome tree, native of W. Africa. Large trees are frequently found in old Mahomedan gardens about the city of Hyderabad, Golconda and elsewhere. The farinaceous pulp which surrounds the seeds is edible and so also are the seeds themselves, which taste like garlic. For most part of the year, this tree is very easily confused with Delonix or Jacaranda species. It is only during December-January, appearance of tennis-ball shaped fluffy flower heads makes one realise that this tree has to be Parkia! In the winter season, 1½ - 2 ft branches, hanging from the leaf axil, bear rust coloured bead-like flower heads, which gradually gain size of a tennis ball - and the "flowers" bloom to spectacular white electric bulbs! The flowers in round white heads are prominent, hence the native name 'Chendul' , or ball. Leaves bipinnate with very numerous leaflets; rachis of leaf downy, 1 ft. of more long; pinnae 20-30 pair, 60 to 100 pairs leaflets, rigid, 1/4 in. long. Presence of two glands at the base of leaf, lends this species the name, biglandulosa. It is an avenue tree in Chennai.

Identification credit: Dinesh Valke Photographed in Maharashtra.

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