Last year I placed Search for Flame of Forest/Tesu tree in Jaipur. Flowers of Flame of the Forest/Tesu tree is used for preparing organic Gulaal. Gulaal is a powder used in holi – the festival of colours. During my explorations in parks to find the Tesu tree, I spotted this visual feast in the crimson shade of Semal flowers. Unaware of the name, a nearby street vendor came to my rescue; he said it’s a Semil tree! It is easiest to spot the Semal tree in the spring.
Silk Cotton Tree Names
The botanical name of the Semalboom is Bombax Ceiba, in English it is called the Silk Cotton Tree. Semil Tree in Hindi is called – शाल्मली, काटेसांवर. In India, people commonly call it Semal ka Ped.
Finding Tesu tree in an urban landscape of Jaipur is not easy. Semal Tree, on the other hand, can be seen on roadsides in central areas of Jaipur such as MI Road and C-Scheme.
Semil Tree Flower
It is a beautiful tree with large and bright red flowers that stands out among its surroundings. The flower has 5 petals that do not appear until spring before the new foliage begins.
Each of these flowers produces more than 7-8 million pollen from the 70-90 anthers for which cross-pollination is important. This is achieved with the help of birds and insects that are attracted by its color and beauty.
The flower produces a capsule, it is fruit. This fruit of this tree is a ball-like structure that appears in April and is full of cotton-like fibers called Kapok. The hot and dry summer weather opens the capsule, allowing the seeds to fly with the wind through the fluffy structure. It is common to see the ground around the tree covered with these cotton-like structures during the summers. In the months that follow, the lucky seeds germinate into a plant through rain. Here are photos of the fluffy cotton-like texture produced by Semil tree.
Semal Boom Usage
The tree is not only beautiful, every part is useful. Here are some common uses of the tree.
- The bark of the Semal tree is a softwood, used in matchsticks. Since the bark lasts a long time, even when submerged in water, anglers use it as a float. The seed produces edible oil, which is used in making soaps.
- Clothing fabric- In rural areas, villagers collect the Semal fruit for this fiber. Kopak is used for filling cheap pillows and duvets, which is widely used in rural areas of India.
- Medicinal Applications- Ayurvedic medicines are prepared from the chewing gum produced by this tree. Almost every part of the tree has medicinal uses in Ayurveda.
- Culture- Many tribal communities in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh worship a Semal tree. They derive many uses from this tree; it is an essential part of their daily lives. The tree attracts many birds and bees, because that’s what brightly colored flowers are for.
- Festival & Customs- According to customs, the trunk of this tree is used as Holi-Danda during: Holika Dahan on Holi because it is considered a symbol of the mythological character Prahlad. This has resulted in the Semal tree being felled at a rapid rate in certain regions.
Semil Tree Price
The wood of this has a good demand. The price of Semal tree wood ranges from Rs 250 to 400/cubic foot.
The decline in the population of this important tree species is worrying environmentalists. It is imperative that we conserve this tree species to maintain ecological balance, as many birds and bees depend on this tree. Cutting off a link in the food chain has a disastrous effect. The decline in the bee population is already a concern in some places. It is said that if the bees disappear from this planet, the extinction of the human population is guaranteed!
It is interesting to note how both the Tesu and Semal tree are connected with the Holi festival. Both trees bloom during the March-April period in which the Holi is celebrated and have bright flowers. Somehow it seems like nature has it laid out, so good!!
I hope to see many more Some trees in Jaipur, it is a beautiful tree after all. It will be interesting to mention that one of the famous writers from India, Ruskin Bond, has also written about this tree in his book The World of Trees. He has a chapter called The party in the Semil tree. Have you read this book?
Have you spotted one in your area yet?
View other stories in the trees of Jaipur.