A colourful delight

India is home to an amazing array of floral diversity. The Central Indian landscape is no exception to this. Although there are many attractive flowers to talk about, I have a personal favourite – the Palash or the Flame of the Forest tree (scientifically known as Butea monosperma).

In the month of March, when usually the Hindu festival of colours Holi occurs, this tree blooms with brilliant orange-coloured flowers. During the blooming season, the tree sheds all its leaves, and only the flowers are present. The large, flame-shaped flowers give the appearance of a tree on fire when seen from afar. Thus the name Flame of the Forest. The flowers are even used as a source of natural orange die, used to make colour which is used for playing Holi.

FOTF Palash (1 of 1)
A bunch of Palash flowers.

The flowers are big and colourful to attract birds, butterflies and other insects, which come to feed on the nectar, but end up pollinating the flowers. Here are some images of birds which have visited the flowering Palash trees in out property recently, including some really rare and special ones.

Crimson Sunbird with FOTF1 (1 of 1)
The Crimson Sunbird is a rarity for Kanha.
FOTF with Chestnut-shouldered Petronia (1 of 1)
A male Yellow-throated Sparrow.
Golden Fronted Leafbird (1 of 1)
A Golden-fronted Leafbird.
FOTF with Jungle Babbler (1 of 1)
A pair of Jungle Babblers, which were part of a larger flock.
FOTF with Oriental White-eye (1 of 1)
An Indian White-eye.

A few butterflies and other insects were also regularly seen visiting the flowers, but given the height of the trees, it was not easy to photograph them.

Sachin Sharma
Naturalist, Singinawa Jungle Lodge

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