Every time I see a Rain Tree, I’m overcome by an urge to run into its arms. Hug it and just be. I met this sturdy grandmotherly presence on Bangalore’s roads, so majestic with its tangled arms holding up the sky. It is said Simon Bolivar camped his entire liberation army under the “Saman de Guerra” near Maracay, Venezuela.
If you’ve taken a walk in the newly paved avenues of Bangalore, you’ll also notice their seed pods immortalised in the tar. Roads may wash away but these pods remain a perennial bumpy presence.
It has puffy pink silky flowers which are easy to miss till it rains or the sun sets earning it the name pukul lima (five o'clock tree in Malaysia). The leaves fold in “sleep” and these pink beauties stand tall.
I can see how this tree can be easily mistaken for the Albizia julibrissin, the Silk Tree or the Pink Siris. I’ve often wondered how I’d be able to tell the difference and the answer lies in the leaves. The saman has larger droopier leaves. The julibrissin on the other hand has characteristic mimosa leaves. Tiny tamarind-like leaves, that look very similar to the touch-me-nots on the roadside. Interestingly, both trees belong to the pea/legume family and have light sensitive leaves.
There are other Mimosas to be had: I’ve been looking for an Albizia lebbeck (Indian Siris) for the longest time and I recently found one in Delhi! For now, I’m focusing on Bangalore. Dilli dur ast.