My friends and I used to collect the fruit of this tree known as Bagekayi in Kannada and grind it with big stones and make into balls and sun dry them. They used to turn out hard like the professional cricket balls. We used to play with them for some time until something else caught our fancy.
This evergreen tree is known as Bagekayi Mara in Kannada belonging to family Fabaceae*. The other common name is Monkey Pod tree. It is native of Mexico, Brazil, South and Southeast Asia, Pacific islands and Hawai. Hindi it is known as Vilaiti Siris, Gulabi Siris.
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The tree is extremely beautiful with a wide canopy reaching to a diameter of 40 meters and hence planted for ornamental purposes to beautify and provide shade to roads and avenues. It grows fast and can reach to a majestic height of 80 feet and shelters a wide variety of birds and monkeys.
The pink flowers start blooming during March in South India and the flowers are like puffs. The flowers are of one inch in height and the puff diameter is around 1 inch to 1½ inches. Each flower stalk is a group of florets. The flowers are half pink and half white.
The leaves are pinnate and the leaves are oval. In the evening the leaves close and hang down. The fruit is a long pod with soft flesh inside, which is sweet to taste and has a gummy characteristic to the flesh.
The oldest rain tree about 500 years old is in Venezuela.
*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.