As summer sets in, it’s time to step out, brave the sun, and enjoy Mumbai’s flora, which is in full bloom this time of year. You could take a walk around the high court and university precinct, where Karanj trees (Pongamia pinnata) are flowering, their pinkish-white flowers attracting butterflies.
You could rest for a while under the wide, inviting canopy of the rain tree. An exotic plant that is a native of the southern hemisphere, it towers at 80-100 feet. You could take a breather on the bed of pink flowers that is likely to be strewn around the base, this time of year.
Anand Pendharkar, an environmentalist, said, “In Karnataka and Maharashtra, oil extracted from the Karanj tree is used for cooking, running generators. It is found all over Mumbai and across the Western Ghats. The rain tree is found along all major roads of the city. However, it is a natural host for parasites like the mealybug, which is killing a large number of these trees.”
With its shock of saffron-yellow flowers and its gnarled trunk, the Palas tree – aptly called the Flame of the Forest– is arguably the most glorious of all local flora you are likely to encounter. The tree, Butea monosperma, rarely rises beyond six metres in height. Biju Augustine, environmentalist and tree enthusiast, said, “The flowers appear on the tree between February and April, when it has no leaves. It is found at the Borivli national park.”
Not just flowers; trees like the mango and jackfruit are also bearing fruit. “The mango tree and the jackfruit are two examples of fruiting trees growing in abundance in the city now,” added Augustine. Both trees are found at the Borivli national park, Tungareshwar, Hindu Colony and other old colonies in Mumbai.