Friday, March 5, 2010

Cooling under Indian Almond Tree!

Then, in 1960s, here in my home town a lane was called after a tree that had been grown along its side. It was called as 'Vaadhaankottaimara Theru' (in Tamil). That tree's common English name is Indian Almond Tree ('Terminalia cattappa', Tropical Almond, ' Vadhaankottai maram' in Tamil)! The tree is characteristic with all its broad, large and deep greenish leaves that turn bright red before they fall down.

It has horizontal branches in tiers. It gives a cool shade under it, though it appears to be incapable for that. Its greenish flowers resemble millet heads. These flowers are either male or female (monoecious) and are borne on the same tree. On seeing fruits on trees we desire to have them by plucking. But this tree offers its fruits that lie on its grounds below, strewn all around! Its fruits are drupes - nuts covered with outer tasty layer (pericarp), like those of mango tree. These fruits have also a thick middle hardy layer of white substance that tastes sour. Finding it difficult to break open the nut and shell out the kernel, even parakeets drop down these nuts after tasting the outer soft and sweet layer! When they are unripe, only to the well trained eyes these fruits are seen on the tree camouflaged among its leaves . They turn deep red once they are ripe, attracting birds and squirrels.

I myself have tasted the fruits of this wonder tree and also the kernel of the nuts (that taste almost exactly like our almond) - using a hammer to break and open the nuts!

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