Indian Cork Tree
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Indian Cork Tree
ntroduced Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Indian Cork Tree, Tree Jasmine • Hindi: नीम चमेली Neem Chameli • Marathi: कावल निम्ब Kaval nimb, बुचाड़े झाड़ buchade jhad, आकाश चमेली Akash chameli, बुच चे फूल Buch che phul • Tamil: கட் மல்லீ Kat-malli • Malayalam: കടെസമ് Katesam • Telugu: కవుకీ Kavuki • Kannada: ಬಿರಟೆಮರ Birate mara, ಆಕಾಶಮಲ್ಲಿಗೆ Aakaasha mallige • Oriya: ମଚ୍ ମଚ୍ Mach-mach, ବକେନୀ Bakeni, Sitahara • Konkani: आकासनिम्ब Akasnimb
Botanical name: Millingtonia hortensis    Family: Bignoniaceae (Jacaranda family)

Photo: Mrunal.
Indian Cork Tree is cultivated in most parts of India, both in gardens and avenues. Tall and straight, with comparatively few branches, its popularity lies in its ornamental value. It is a fine tree, fast growing, but with brittle wood, liable to be damaged by storms. In favourable positions it can grow to 24 m tall. The ashy bark is cracked and furrowed and the numerous fissures make removal of the cork an easy matter. It is used as an inferior substitute for true cork. From April until the rains and again in November and December, a profusion of silvery-white, delightfully fragrant flowers crown the foliage. Upright open clusters with arching blooms terminate every branchlet. Each flower is a tiny bell-shaped calyx, a long slender tube of palest green dividing into four waxy, white petals and several conspicuous yellow anthered stamens. Many flowers are delicately tinted with rose. As the flowers are short-lived, the flower sprays mostly consist largely of long whitish buds, while the ground below is spangled with innumerable little stars. Between January and March the leaves are shed and renewed during April and May, although the tree is never quite naked. The long leaves bear two or three widely spaced pinnae, each with five or seven smooth leaflets, oval, pointed and slightly round-toothed. Each is from 2.5 to 7.5 cm. long. Sometimes the lower pinnae, are again divided and bear one pair of three leaved pinnae, one or two pairs of leaflets and one leaflet at the end. The fruit is very long and narrow, pointed at both ends and contains thin flat seeds. Trees do not seed very easily in India. The long, fragrant flowers are commonly woven into an ornamental braid called Veni in Maharashtra.

Identification credit: Prashant Awale Photographed in Maharashtra & Gujarat.

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