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Saving Cassia

21 August, 2017

            Saving Cassia


A couple of months back, we've had a fair bit of construction work started around our estate for some new public apartments and upgrading work. There was a large, four storey high Golden Rain Tree* (Cassia fistula) that grew at the end of the community garden next to the construction site.

A drought tolerant and relatively fast growing member of the legume family native to the Indian subcontinent and adjacent regions of Southeast Asia, it is popularly used in streetscapes and has ethnobotanical uses in ayurvedic medicine. 

This particular tree stood for many years giving a spectacular display of brilliant yellow flowers frequently throughout the year and was a favourite for foraging bee that feasted on its nectar. When its blossoms fall they carpeted the ground in gold. One day it was there and the next suddenly gone, perhaps because its roots were obstructing piling work at the construction site.

Many residents were sad to see it cut down, and we thought it was gone for good. But about a month after its supposed demise we noticed some new growth where the tree once stood. At first, we thought these were seedlings that had germinated when the soil was tilled during the removal of the old cassia's roots, after all it produced a prodigious amount of seed pods. But when we tried to transplant them we were amazed that these sprouting shoots were originating from root fragments. It turned out that not all the roots were removed when the tree was cut down and it was regenerating itself.

There were many shoots emerging from the fragments, and we were able to gently unearth a small viable section which we transplanted to the nursery area in the community garden, and it would be replanted back once it is large enough.

*Inset image from Google