This beautiful tree grows in my aunt’s garden in Bangalore and a Hoopoe sits on the branches and sings Hoo…Poo…Hoo…Poo….a perfect setting to spend time sipping tea in the evening.
The botanical name is Gliricidia Maculata and other common names of this tree are Mother of Cocoa and Quickstick belonging to Fabaceae* family. This tree is in full splendor from February to April with lilac or pink flowers. The tree is a native of Mexico and Central America. They are planted in Cocoa plantations to give shade to the Cocoa Trees and also to nourish the soil, hence the name “Mother of Cocoa” and aptly in Kannada it is called as “Gobbarada Mara” meaning fertilizer tree. The tree is also planted for preventing soil erosion, firewood, for manure, medicinal purpose, to extract rat poison and for insect repellent properties.
The tree grows up to a height of 12 to 14 meters. The bark is white and smooth and when the tree is in bloom it is almost leafless. The flowers are 10 – 15 cm long racemes and each flower is only 2 cm in length. The flowers have shades of white and in the middle it has a yellow glow at the base of the flower. The fruit of the tree is a pod about 10 to 15 cm long encasing around 4 to 10 brown round seeds. The leaves are composite and are 30 cms long.
The flowers are pollinated by bees and Peablue Lampides butterflies.
*Fabaceae or Leguminosae is a large and economically important family of flowering plants, which is commonly known as the legume family, pea family, bean family or pulse family.