Flora,  Nature

Amaltas: The golden shower tree

The golden chandelier-like blossoms make you stop in your tracks, even when the firmament is afire. Pendulous yellow flowers cascade down in plenty making the green of the leaves redundant. The golden shower tree or the golden rain tree blooms when the sun is ablaze during the fiery summers. And no amount of poetry can do justice to the sight of these blossoms.

Amaltas. Cassia fistula. The Indian laburnum.

This is a species native to the Indian subcontinent, and I love them most when they are planted adjacent to the Gulmohurs. The juxtaposition of the orange and the yellow blossoms simply the transforms the drab scenery of an arid summer.

The metamorphosis of the Amaltas is dramatic. The tree sheds its leaves in winter. From the bare tree, the flowering phase which starts at the onset of summer is profuse. The tree is known to be of medicinal value in Ayurveda- especially the long brown pods or fruits. The pulp from the pods is used as a purgative. It is called aragvadha in Sanskrit which roughly translates into ‘killer of disease’, as it is said to have other medicinal benefits too.

The Amaltas is the national flower of Thailand. It is also the state flower of Kerala. On Vishu, the Malayali New Year Day, clusters of these flowers form part of the Vishukkani arrangement, which one is supposed to see first on waking up.

Exactly a month ago, I had clicked these blossoms on this Amaltas tree. And now when I returned from my vacation, I had to hunt for the flowers between the leaves.

Life is like that. Sometimes the golden showers representing joys are at the forefront. At others, the mundane tasks represented by the green leaves take over. But that doesn’t mean the joys don’t exist. You just have to look a little harder to appreciate their existence.

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