Monday, October 19, 2009

Jasmine of the Sky- Millingtonia

Millingtonia hortensis, or the Jasmine of the Sky as it is called locally is also known as the Indian Cork tree. It is planted as road side tree and also as a garden tree. The trees are in full bloom now,adding a delightful, mild fragrance to the surroundings. The tree is handsome, tall and straight, with a grey bark. It flowers twice a year, once in March- April, and once in September-October. The flowers are white and star- shaped, with four petals. The flowers open in the night and fall down in the morning, carpetting the ground beneath with fragrant stars. Children weave garlands from the fallen flowers, without using thread. The tree gives a kind of cork.
The tree is said to live upto 80 years. There are a couple of old and handsome trees in my ancestral home in Mysore, which are, I am sure, more than 80 year old. The Indian hornbills have made their homes in those trees.
Millingtonia has an ancient story attached to it. There was beautiful princess named Prajakta, who fell in love with the Sun. She was disconsolate when the Sun left her in the evening , and she committed suicide She was reborn as the Jasmine of the Sky tree. She still sheds tears when she sees her lover.The tree flowers during the night and sheds her flower- tears as soon as the sun comes up.
The leaves of the Millingtonia are a good insecticide. The roots and bark are used in the Indian medicine system, Ayurveda, for the treatment of Asthma.

9 comments:

  1. I have always admired this majestic tree with its waxy, fragrant flowers. But I didn't know it had such a beautiful story attached to it....

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  2. Such a sweet story. How delighful to have such a beautiful tree in bloom twice a year!

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  3. I'm not familiar with this tree but it sounds wonderful. But it does remind me of the Coral Jasmine whose blooms fall in the morning. The fragrance must be lovely!

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  4. Shailaja: The ancient Sanskrit poets were incurably romantic, and there are stories attached to most of the native trees of India!
    Katarina, Kanak: The tree lifts up the spirits.Unlike the Coral Jasmine, the Millingtonia is very tall and majestic.

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  5. What a pretty tree. I like the story that goes with it, even if it is a sad one.

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  6. Hi
    Wonderful story. The tree is so tall & majestic, looks like its reaching out to the skies to offer its flowers to the sun god!
    manisha

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  7. Catherine, Manisha: I am glad you like the story. Many of our trees have stories attached to them.

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  8. Wonderful Write up !

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