Tropical almond - Badam tree in the Indian plains
Come winter, and the Badam tree gets all dolled up in a vibrant red.
“A Badam (Almond) tree in the plains is quite a novelty”, my father told me; and for a ten year old it became a matter of pride and adoration.
The young tree spread its roots and announced its approval of living conditions in our Lucknow garden with a flourish of dewy foliage.
Glossy parrot green leaves draped the young tree in no time. Its green canopy stood steadfast, ignoring the diktat of the summer sun. It grew like the magical beanstalk in the Grimm’s Fairy Tale ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, to compete with the tallest Neem tree (Margosa) in the garden. The poor Neem was outdone in no time!
We were pleased that the young immigrant from the hills had settled in well.
It’s a happy kind of tree. Birds nestle in its sweeping branches, taking cover in its abundant foliage. Cuckoos, sparrows, mynas, bulbuls, parrots, owlets and the occasional dhanesh, covet this haven and voice their appraisal. Their choir-music reverberates through the garden and gladdens all who care to listen to this joyous expression.
When seasons bring flower and fruit to ornament the king of the garden, activity increases manifold. Fragrant cream blossoms carpet the ground at the slightest breeze. Battalions of ants scurry up and down to sip nectar from these ethereal cups. White spiders spin their web and feast on ants, under camouflage of cream blossoms.
Green blossoms emerge in due course, and arouse the curiosity of passersby. The fruit is eyed by bird and man alike. The deep red to purple outer covering of ripe Badams invite many a beak to dive into its tangy, juicy realms, while the kernel is left untouched for our kinds.
Come winter, and the Badam tree gets all dolled up in a vibrant red, turning maroon, before the leaves bid goodbye to the tree. In the garden, its red stands a colour apart, and catches even the most unobservant eye.