My amaltas Tree

Posted on June 23, 2008
Filed Under >Raza Rumi
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Raza Rumi

I grew up watching an amaltas (Cassia fistula) grow in our side-garden in Lahore. Each spring would bring flowers on the creepers and shortly thereafter the Amaltas would start blooming with yellow flowers setting fire to the little garden adjacent to my room. Lahore’s roads would also glow in the summer adding much zest to a loveable, hot summer.

Heat would make one yearn for the rains. So the cycle of seasons would continue with Amaltas at the centre of transitions and unforgettable for the colour and unfathomable beauty.

In Dhaka, Delhi and so many South Asian cities I have watched Amaltas trees in full bloom. The picture above (taken in Islamabad by a newspaper correspondent) today brought back all those muddled memories. Luckily, where I live now, Amalatas exists with a different local name.

Comforting, like an old acquaintance, it is still there in my life. It has not abandoned me.

A version of this post also appeared at Lahore Nama

Photo Credits: flickr.com

19 Comments on “My amaltas Tree”

  1. Ayaz K. says:
    June 23rd, 2008 9:15 pm

    …guess such trees are so much immuned to pullution and dust now. They survive in such an environment where eveything is so messed up. Thanks for sharing this article.

  2. Hina says:
    June 23rd, 2008 9:17 pm

    My childhood memories of edible flora and fauna revolve around the “Toot tree”. The enormous tree was right outside our front door and as soon as it bored fruit we would start throwing stones targeting the shahtoots. The gray cement sarak underneath the tree will be dyed marronish purple though out the season. Haider Lala, grandma’s driver, made sure never to park the car underneath the tree during the peak season and our ears were boxed if we appeared before Ami with toot stains on our clothes especially on the white sash of the school uniform.
    I haven’t set eyes on a Toot tree in more then a decade :long sigh:

  3. MQ says:
    June 23rd, 2008 11:31 pm

    Amaltas, in full bloom, is one of the most flamboyant trees native to Pakistan.It starts blooming in late May-early June in Islamabad and seems to defy the heat and drought when every other living thing is seeking cover from the blazing summer sun. It is appropriately called Golden Shower.

    Here are 2 photos of an Amaltas that I planted a few years ago. It must be in full bloom right now

  4. auk says:
    June 23rd, 2008 11:53 pm

    I grew up on a street named Amaltas Road, in a very quiet part of the country. Right across from our house were three Amaltas trees. The happiest memories of my childhood include those yellow blossoms, and the days of July and August when rains would come and make them look more vivid. Thanks Rumi for sharing this.

  5. Raza Rumi says:
    June 24th, 2008 5:44 am

    What lovely comments – many visitors have their personal memories and associations with this extraordianry tree..

    Ayaz: Yes they survive in the pollution and hottest of climes..that is what makes the amaltas so amazing..
    Hina: Nice to hear about the Toot tree – another dying breed (like the value system)
    MQ: the photos are brilliant. Where did you plant them?
    Auk: Where is the Amaltas Road? Most intriguing – I need to go there..

  6. Asma says:
    June 24th, 2008 6:09 am

    And I thought only Islamabad is rich in yellow delights :)

    Lovely post :>

  7. Zebunnisa says:
    June 24th, 2008 7:58 am

    Beautiful post. Thank you.

  8. Zebunnisa says:
    June 24th, 2008 8:00 am

    An interesting look at “sacred trees” here: http://www.salagram.net/Sacred-trees.html

  9. June 24th, 2008 8:45 am

    Thanks for bring back memories of years gone by. I still remember waking up in the morning beholding beautiful flowers hanging from the branches. Loved specially the combination of bright yellow to yellow green.

  10. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    June 24th, 2008 9:38 am

    Raza: You have revived many memories. When I was writing my memoirs of Dildar Pervaiz Bhatti, I wanted to write about ‘our’ Amaltas tree but did not.

    In our school there was this one lonely Amaltas tree under which we parked our bicycles. In months of May and June that tree used to bloom like crazy with very sweet fragrance. The tree had very nice deep and cool shadow. It was a place to for our group to ‘hang out’ and for Dildar to hold his daily ‘majma’. I wonder how many laughters and care free early summer hours were spent there.

    Last year I went back to visit our old school. It has been upgraded to a degree college now. I went looking for ‘our’ Amaltas tree……… It was not there any more. That part of the campus has been claimed for the new addition to the old building.

  11. MQ says:
    June 24th, 2008 10:21 am

    RR: I planted these trees in 1999 outside our farmhouse in Islamabad. It’s a fairly fast growing tree and starts flowering within 3-4 years. I took these pictures in June 2003.

    Incidentally, Kohsar Road, Isamabad, the road that connects Margalla Road with Jinnah Super, is lined with Amaltas trees (I guess the last picture in the post is of the same road). It presents a spectacular sight in June.

  12. Tina says:
    June 24th, 2008 10:25 am

    What a lovely article and a reminder not to overlook the beauties in our own backyards. It’s often hard to find people who have complimentary things to say about Pakistan in the hot season, but the good things are there for many–folks who have fond memories of mango orchards ripening, of monsoon rains, of sleeping on the rooftop–and now the amaltas tree. Thanks Raza! The pictures are great too.

  13. auk says:
    June 24th, 2008 12:16 pm

    Raza, Now that I am forced to divulge where I come from, Amaltas Road is in Wah Cantt.

  14. Ordinary Girl says:
    June 24th, 2008 1:13 pm

    Such beautiful trees. They make me wish I were a better photographer :)

  15. Kabir says:
    June 25th, 2008 11:08 am

    The splash of color that this tree brings is a joy to behold.

  16. Raza Rumi says:
    June 25th, 2008 12:32 pm

    Auk: ha ha – many thanks. I will be visiting W-Cantt soon..

    Alvi Saheb: your comments were wonderful – such are the pleasures of remembering the good old days..

  17. Ayesha says:
    June 27th, 2008 2:34 pm

    We also had one of these trees in our house in Lahore. I always loved it most and when I was young I would put the little yellow petals in a glass bowl of water to float. You have brough great memories back.

  18. huma says:
    July 16th, 2009 5:05 am

    its awesome

  19. May 29th, 2011 6:28 pm

    اگر اٹھارہ کروڑ پاکستانیوں میں سے ہر ایک 20 درخت لگائے تو 5 سال کے اندر ہم پانی کی قلت ، گلوبل وارمنگ عالمی حدت ، اور ماحولیاتی مسائل سے چھٹکارا حاصل کر سکتے ہیں۔
    یعنی ہمیں
    180000000 * 20 = 3600000000
    پاکستان میں تین ارب ساٹھ کروڑ درخت اگانے ہیں۔
    http://www.facebook.com/Tree.Plantation.Pakistan?sk=info

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