Mumbaiwale: How green is your alley?

Exotic and historic trees thrive in Mumbai’s nooks and corners. This is the perfect season to re-discover them

mumbai Updated: Apr 11, 2018 20:51 IST
Rachel Lopez
Rachel Lopez
Hindustan Times
Mumbaiwale,Mumbai,Mumbai news
Spring is an ideal time to discover trees at gardens or in your own neighbourhood. (HT file photo)

In the 91 times Renee Vyas has organised monthly guided Tree Appreciation Walks with her friend, Dr Usha Desai, her husband has never once come along. “He just doesn’t want to wake up early to look at trees,” says Vyas, 62.

Group nature trails, to be fair, aren’t for everyone. You may prefer trees to people, want to set your own pace and rather not listen to the chattering of enthusiastic guides or companions. And, of course, head out at a later hour. “When we started eight years ago, we’d have 10 people accompanying us,” Vyas recalls. “Now we can have as many as 60 and often they can’t all hear us speak.” With the flowering season here, it’s possible to chart out your own green trail across different parts of the city. Here are some pointers:


Vyas and Desai will conduct their next Tree Appreciation Walk on March 25 in a half-acre garden near Thane’s Kopri neighbourhood. You’ll be able to spot the Jamaican ebony, a lime-puff flower, Egyptian paper reeds, egg magnolias and horse-tail puzzle grass. “Even if you don’t join a guided tour, take time to notice trees,” says Vyas. “Too much politics and economics takes you away from nature – but we are nature and the urge to nurture makes you human – how else can you love?”


Locals know Nagdev Omkareshwar Manoranjan Park for its gigantic installations of musical instruments. But a closer look reveals about 20 leafy trees, some of them old and quite beautiful. Vyas, who conducted a tree walk there last summer, has identified indigenous species like tamhan, peepal, lal champa and soncahfa alongside butterfly palms, bougainvillea, lantana, Persian lilacs and eucalyptus. “The big surprise is that Mumbaikars love trees and plants,” says Vyas. “We’ve had people from Dombivli and Thane come to tree walks in Colaba, Pune residents have come to see species that they don’t have back home, and so many locals see their own neighbourhoods with new eyes.”


Walk outwards from the Five Gardens. The leafy neighbourhood is home to 60 species of rare and unusual trees. Along Adenwala Road are copper-pod trees (like yellow gulmohars) native to Sri Lanka and Malaysia; down Firdoshi Road stand majestic old mahogany trees; and all through Khareghat Road are bushy, pink-flowered guest trees common to Indonesia.

Bright purple petals on one tree? That’s probably the Queen’s Flowers. Bright purple petals on a shrub? That’s the Purple Lilac. A burst of tiny orange blooms on Lad Jehangir Road? That must be the Sita Ashok tree.

The area’s trees are as exotic as they are old. There’s a woody Trincomali, native to the Andamans and Sri Lanka, and the wide-leaved Padauk from South-East Asia. There are African imports too: The Hatiamiuki (identified by its yellowish stems) comes all the way from Madagascar and the sausage tree (for its elongated fruit) from central Africa.


At the Heritage Garden, the one opposite Glen Towers on Cliff Avenue, the trees are as exotic as the names of the housing complexes. From North America are poplars and oil palms. There are palms from Madagascar, Fiji, the Philippines, China and Australia. An ironwood tree from Brazil and an African coral tree share space with Nepalese grass. “In Powai, of course, there’s the IIT campus with 500 acres of greenery,” Vyas points out. “But you need permission to enter. This garden is easier to access.”


The sprawling botanical garden has 286 kinds of trees so it’s a bonanza for plant lovers. Take in the gigantic baobab at the entrance (one of 120 in the city according to last year’s census) and the cannonball tree just inside. There’s a beautiful South American rain tree in the centre, and a Burmese Tree of Pride and a thick Australian tea tree along one of the trails.

Tree guides: Tree Appreciation Walk reneevyas8@, ushandesai@; Walk The Mumbai Trees walkthemumbaitrees; Bombay Natural History Society -

Handy books: Trees of Parsi Colony by Dadar resident Katie Bagli; Trees of Mumbai by Marselin Almeida and Naresh Chaturvedi; Save Rani Bagh’s catalogue of trees at Jijamata Udyan - botanical- Wealth.html

Other spots: Mahim Nature Park; Sagar Upvan, Colaba; Andheri Mahakali ALM Park; Aarey colony, Chembur RCF.

First Published: Apr 11, 2018 20:49 IST