The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

I’ve been fascinated by the chir pine Pinus roxburghii (Pinus longifolia) for quite some time and realised that I haven’t yet put down a post on it. I’ve marvelled at its beauty both at Sattal and also Mussoorie in Uttarakhand, India.  Unfortunately it is sad to see villagers set whole slopes of the forest on fire which is taken up by the layer of dry pine needles covering the mountain slopes. The villagers do it so that grass would grow again on the ground between the trees for them to take home back to their cattle. It is also suspected that the land mafia does this to deliberately deforest areas in connivance with the authorities which they can then encroach upon and sell. This is easy to do as the pine is rich in resin and catches fire easily even when wet. Continue reading The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

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How to open up a green (tender) coconut

Back to the main post on the coconut tree

I had clicked these pictures a couple of years ago. After procrastinating for quite some time, I’ve finally posted them. Green or tender coconuts as they are known make for a very refreshing drink -particularly in the summers. They are known to have a cooling effect on the body and are full of electrolytes. Wikipedia says that the water in an undamaged coconut is sterile and has even been used in developing countries and during WWII in emergencies as IV fluid. Back home in Udupi, we often give tender coconut water to sick people. Some varieties such as the more expensive yellow Gendali bonda is said to be more beneficial for sick people. Continue reading How to open up a green (tender) coconut

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Drumstick leaf fried rice

The drumstick tree, as it is known in India or the Moringa Oleifera, is a well known tree. The stick like seed pod is commonly cooked and at home is mandatory for sambar, the leaves although being highly nutritious are seldom used in our house. Even though we had a tree by our window all through our childhood years in Bombay, my mother, in spite of knowing that it was edible, seldom prepared it. They themselves ate it during their childhood, but only in its capacity as a medicine or probably as some kind of famine food during hard times. Even when I go home for Christmas every year, and we have a tree growing in our garden, she won’t prepare it unless I insist. This time I did. The flowers of the Moringa are edible as well.


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Calotropis gigantea / Calotropis procera

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Buds, Flowers and leaves of the Calotropis procera in Charmwood Village, Faridabad, Haryana

This plant is an old friend on account of its familiarity since childhood, thanks to its wide distribution all over India. I remember this plant as it is pretty easy to identify. It is covered in a whitish powder and when a part of the plant is broken off, it exudes  latex ( a milky-white sap) which is sticky and hard to wash off. As kids we used to break off the leaves and play with the sap or chase its wind borne seeds  after blowing on them. This seed dispersal method probably explains the large distribution of the plant in India. This is in addition to its ability to grow in waste land and in areas of poor soil. Continue reading Calotropis gigantea / Calotropis procera

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