Sunday 29 March 2015

Sights of Summer 2: Indian Laburnum/konrai/kannikona/amaltas/golden shower tree

Our campus is quite a sight in summer with splashes of golden in the form of Indian Laburnum konrai (in Tamil), scientifically known as Cassia fistuala and another tree which I will discuss in my forthcoming posts. For long, I have been thinking of this particular tree as a resident of Kerala since my amma always used to mention that this flower appears during the time of Vishu, the onset of a new year according to the Malayali calendar. I was reintroduced to the tree when I saw a mention of this tree in the Sangam poems. It did not matter much to me then for I did not then know that the tree my mom mentioned and konrai were one and the same. Years later when I married a man from Kerala, he pointed out the flowers to me and mentioned that its name was kannikona. Then rereading the Sangam poems, I realised the konrai and kannikona  were one and the same. The flowers look beautiful and like the raw mangoes, they bring joy to my mind and senses. They hang in bunches and from a distance one, can see splashes of yellow and some green of the leaves. I find it rather difficult to tear off my eyes from the trees while I spot them during our evening walks in the campus. These trees also dot my College campus and whenever I have to go to the canteen, I slow down my steps so that I can take in the beauty of these golden showers. These are the most photographed trees. I have resisted clicking pictures for I might miss the pleasure the moment has to offer. I therefore will post pictures sourced from the internet.

These trees are also found in large numbers in Goa, Tamil Nadu and Kerala; Wikipedia tells me that this flower is the national flower of Thailand.

The flowers proudly seem to celebrate the colour of summer in their shade and spritely demeanour. They also remind me a lot of the daffodils that can be spotted during summers in England. Yellow is the overlapping factor between the two flowers which are otherwise quite different in terms of the size of the plant and the structure of the flowers.

For your reading pleasure, I share a poem from the Sangam age translated from Tamil by my teacher and mentor Nirmal Selvamony:

Stupid, surely, are those large-stemmed Laburnum trees
that mistook the unseasonal rains
and put out, on their branches, lush, pendulous racemes
even before the monsoon he spoke of
when setting out on stony arid paths.
 (koovattanaar, kuruntokai 66, Sangam ilakkiyam 1: 616)
In the short poem, the girl is getting restless waiting for her lover for he promised her that he will be back by monsoon when the Laburnum (konrai, kannikona) is in bloom. The girl sees the flowers bloom before season and is forlorn and lovesick.

So, here I share another sight of summers in Goa/India.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet


  1. It shines
    Like a golden waterfall
    Cascading through
    Those subtle shades
    Of green
    Dripping like sunbeams
    From its hanging boughs,
    And lighter the way
    To the morning rise.
    And I should be glad
    To stand beneath it,
    And to shower
    In it's infinite glory.
    A. Blackmore
    Yeah laburnum...and oh what a fragrance it has. You know Susannah there is a street here in Delhi and it looks glorious because both sides have luburnum...but there is still time for that glory to hit Delhi.
    So happy to see Amaltas aka Laburnum on your post today. :)
    As far as the song is concerned i don't know why but i always associate Chetti Mandaar Tulasi...that famous Onam Malyalam song with this flower...i think maybe because i think i hear Kannikona in that...

  2. We get to see them here in Pune too, a welcome sight in the summer.
    Like that poem from the Sangam age.



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