The Tree Tales – Kanju Tree

There is a tree which these days is being discussed way more than any other single stemmed woody organisms in the city. The tree, though is drought hardy, but is getting into conversations for bad reasons and is perhaps the most cursed trees in the Jaipur gardens. Considered dreadful by Asthama and allergy patients, this tree is been commonly recognized by its fruit which in colloquial language is termed as “Bandar ki roti”.

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This tree that we are talking about is perhaps, the tallest native tree of Jaipur. It is the Kanju or Indian elm or Chilbil or Chudail papdi.

It is a large deciduous tree with greyish bark and flat, paper like biscuit colored fruits. These fruits used to be all around us when I was a kid. It would be interesting to know somebody who has lived in the city and who has not seen this tree or its fruit.

The leaves of Kanju are quite uncomplicated. These are those quintessential leaves that I once thought are the only leaves possible and are what I use to draw in the landscapes during our school drawing classes. Perhaps, the only difference is that these leaves are a little more rounded and have a blunt pointed apex.

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Kanju Leaves

The bark however is something that stands out for me. Unlike the usual dark brown, blackish babool/Neem like bark, this is fairer and smoother. Internet and books from VSSS library tells me that older trees have chapped and rough barks.  I am yet to notice an older tree for reasons known to all of us. Nevertheless, I would urge you to notice the brown dots running all along the bark in vertical straight lines. I can’t help but wonder what the bark would have looked like without these dots.

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Kanju Bark

The most popular element of this tree is its fruit which is feather light and papery in texture with a seed inside it.  To me, the feather light fruit of the tree seems like nature’s way of keeping the new tree adequately distant from its mother tree or else these large wonders of nature might compete with each other for resources.

Kanju is a wonder tree that can survive even with 50 cm of annual rainfall and can reach up to 25 meters. For desert dwellers, trees like Kanju are harbingers of hope; golden green amidst the grays and browns.

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Kanju Fruit

For those who are allergic to it, it might not harm to understand how our immune systems work. More and more people are becoming allergic to pollens is because their immune systems have never got an opportunity to learn the difference between the dangerous pathogens and harmless pollens. All thanks to the modern hygiene and our indoor lifestyles. One needs to understand that It is not the Connect with pollens but the Disconnect with nature.

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