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Growing The Almost Legendary Amherstia Nobilis:
Finding One Is The Biggest Battle; Growing One Is Pure Horticultural "Heaven!"

By G.S. Unnikrishnan; The Hindu Pages

Amherstia nobilis is suitable for avenue planting as well as landscape gardening.

Noble tree: Colourful flowers of the Simsapa!  Amherstia nobilis, locally known as Simsapa, is one of the sacred trees of India. It belongs to the family Caesalpiniaceae. Simsapa was found in a temple garden in Burma in 1826 and hence famous by the name ‘Pride of Burma.’  The generic name Amherstia comes from Countess Amherst, wife of a former governor of Burma. The species name nobilis’ (noble) comes from the noble honour bestowed on the tree.

The flowers are given a special place in Buddhist temples in Burma and Sri Lanka. In the city, Simsapa is rarely seen in India. In the city, the tree can be spotted in the Secretariat Garden and the Museum Garden. The Simsapa is a beautiful tree which grows up to 12 metres in height. It is suitable for avenue planting as well as landscape gardening. A hot humid climate is preferred for planting of these trees. It will not grow well in dry arid regions. The soil should be rich. Propagation is usually by air layering. The leaves grow up to 1.5 feet long. They are divided into six pairs of oppositely placed leaflets. The tender leaves are mauve to purple in colour and later become bright green.

Flowering occurs between February and May. Petals are crimson red with the two medium-sized petals yellow at the tip.The largest petal is broad and fan-shaped with a wavy upper margin and a yellow triangle of colour extending from the lip down into the flower. This tree of beauty and rarity deserves further attention by tree lovers and gardeners.

G.S.UNNIKRISHNAN    © Copyright 2000 - 2008 "The Hindu Pages"

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Source: http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2008012850570200.htm&date=2008/01/28/&prd=mp&

Paul, The Wise Gardener!