nature walk

Amaltas — The golden shower tree

Amaltas — The golden shower tree

Amarjeet Singh Batth

Cassia fistula popularly know 'Amaltas' or 'Golden shower tree' dots the sky during peak of summers starting from mid-May to mid-June and even beyond in this region of sub tropical plains of North India. It gives profuse flowering which complements the blue colour of the sky and gives a soothing summerish effect to the onlooker.

The tree is so packed with yellow flowers that it is difficult to spot a leaf. It is important to note that Amaltas do not give much required shade during harsh summers as during this time, the tree is overwhelmed with flowers with insignificant foliage to provide shade. It is planted along roads and avenue primarily for beautification. It has a Hybrid, Cassia alipurens that has cream coloured flowers.

Amaltas belongs to family Fabaceae and sub family Caesalpinioideae and is a fast growing medium sized perennial tree about 30-50 feet high with spreading branches and greenish grey bark. It is a deciduous tree which means it shed its leaves which reappear after the bloom is over towards the end of June. The leaves are compound, pari-pinnate, petiolate, three to five pairs of leaflets which are sub-sessile and opposite.

The long pendulous raceme having pedicilate, complete, zygomorphic, bisexual, golden yellow coloured flowers. Sepals are five, free, glabrous and caducous. Corola comprises five shortly clawed petals. Stamens are ten, polyandrous and unequal. Ovary is monocarpellary, unilocular and superior. Fruit is a brownish black pod on leafless branches. The pod is cylindrical, pendulous, and indehiscent divided transversely into one-seeded compartments.

Amaltas is a fast growing medium sized perennial tree about 30-50 feet high. It sheds leaves which reappear after the bloom is over, towards the end of June.

Things to remember while planting:

  1. Where to plant: It needs a sunny spot and well drained soil of any type. It is grown as an ornamental tree at the parks, public places, educational and institutional areas. It is planted in groups of three or five in big gardens, or as a specimen tree in a home garden or along roadsides.
  2. When to plant: The month of Feb-March and July-August are the best time to plant. Almost two weeks prior to the planting, dig a space 2x2 feet and two feet deep. Add half the quantity of soil of farm yard manure, mix it well and water it and keep it for two weeks. Place the sapling and tighten the soil by pressing it hard and irrigate it immediately. It requires care in the first two years and once the tree is established apart from regular irrigation and twice a year in July and December manure dose, it just needs no attention. Regular pruning to maintain the shape and removal of dead and broken wood is done round the year. Planting distance is 20-20 feet plant to plant depending upon the planting arrangement.
  3. Plantation arrangement: Amaltas (Golden Yellow), Gulmohar ( Orange-Scarlet) and Jacranda (Blue-Mauve) can be planted alternatively or on two rows facing each other as the three have synchronised flowering time.

National tree and flower of Thailand

It is the state flower of Kerala and the national tree and flower of Thailand. The tree has strong and durable wood and is used to make furniture, supporting structures and agricultural implements. In Sanskrit it is called 'Aragvadha', meaning 'disease killer' and also has many medicinal benefits. However, self-medication is strongly to be avoided. It is advisable to keep children and pets at a distance.

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