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Desert Blooms

Desert Blooms

Come with us and rediscover some of the flagship species of trees and flowers that are a part of India’s extensive flora bank—one state at a time.

Though a large percentage of the total area of the state is desert with little forest cover, Rajasthan, nevertheless maintains a rich and varied ecosystem that harbours several species of trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers, and lower plants.

Khejri (Prosopis cineraria)

Khejri (Prosopis cineraria)

STATE TREE: Khejri (Prosopis cineraria)

Rajasthan state is blessed with a special tree species, locally known as Khejri. This medium-sized tree belongs to the Acacia family (Mimosoideae). Deserts mean harsh and extreme climatic conditions, but this tree has amazingly adapted to the low-water conditions (100 mm rainfall) and high-temperature variations (0 to 50°C) and remains almost evergreen through the year. They shed their leaves for only two months, during the high winter period. Very rough and thickly-fissured bark protects the tree, and its root system goes 30 metres below to draw water from the ground. Local people lop nitrogen-rich green leaves from the tree for their livestock. Its cylindrical fruit pods are consumed as a vegetable and known as Sangari. Their flowers are very significant honey bee forage.

In 1730, 363 Bishnoi men, women and children martyred themselves to protect these trees, initiating the Chipko movement for the protection of trees. The economy, ecology and folklore of Rajasthan are majorly influenced by the Khejris— making them an ideal landmark tree for the state.

STATE FLOWER: Roheda (Tecomella undulate)

The Roheda tree blooms beautiful flowers (Cover photo) in vibrant red, yellow, and orange colours during the month of March. This is possibly the only tree species producing 7-8 cm-large flowers in the state. The flower blooms on a deciduous or nearly evergreen tree found in arid and semi-arid regions. This tree is considered as the ‘teak of Marwar’ because of its tough and durable wood, which is often used for furniture and is suitable for carving. Today, this tree is under threat because of increasing demand for its wood. The Roheda tree belongs to the Jacaranda family Bignoniaceae, which is famous for ornamental flowering trees. The roots of the tree spread on the top surface of the soil forming a network, thereby acting as a soil binder. Being a large, shady tree in an arid environment, it provides shelter and sustenance to several desert animals, especially birds and small mammals.

 

Desert BloomsThis is a joint Article by Dharmendra and Divya Khandal (Originally Published in SAEVUS Magazine Sep 2014 Issue)

Dharmendra is a Conservation Biologist with Tiger Watch. He is a researcher, monitoring anti-poaching initiatives around Ranthambhore. He is involved in reform programmes for the Mogya, a traditional hunting community. Divya Khandal is an amateur wildlife writer and photographer.  She runs Dhonk, a social enterprise, which works with local communities promoting their crafts around Ranthambore National Park.

 

 


Read also: Croaks all around 


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About the Author /

Dharmendra Khandal is PhD from Rajasthan University in wetland ecology. He is a conservation biologist, working with Ranthambhore based NGO Tiger Watch since 2003.

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