Silk cotton tree

1 min read
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Silk cotton trees are disappearing from south Rajasthan, launching a cascade of adverse consequences for forests and people in the area.

About Silk cotton tree:

  • The silk cotton tree (Bombax ceiba L.) is locally known as semal tree.
  • It is a lofty deciduous tree with buttressed base when old and the whole trunk is covered with large conical prickles.
  • It is mainly found in moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests, also in the plains
  • Occasionally found in plains from the coast, on the deciduous belt of the hills to 1400 m. 
  • Members of the Garasia tribe in Rajasthan believe they are descended from semal trees.
  • Distribution: In India it is seen in Andaman & Nicobar Island, Assam, Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh.
  • Significance of the tree
    • It has multiple purposes and is useful to wild animals, insects, and even to tribal communities.
    • It is a fire-resistant tree. It is also known for its cooling properties.
    • It is considered a pioneer tree that generates a rich biomass every season, and has been used to reclaim wastelands.
    • This tree fixes carbon and helps carbon sequestration by shedding all leaves before flowering.
    • Many researchers believe the semal to be a bio indicator—a late flowering could mean a hot summer or a delayed monsoon.
    • The rock bees nestle on its branches because the tree’s spikes keep its predator, the sloth bears, away.
    • Members of tribal communities consume the tree’s reddish root for food during the monsoons.
    • It provides opportunities for agroforestry and resources like food, fodder, and fuel wood.
    • Members of the Kathodi tribe use its wood to craft musical instruments while those of the Bhil use it to make utensils.

Q1: What is a Bioindicator?

These are living organisms such as plants, planktons, animals, and microbes, which are utilized to screen the health of the natural ecosystem in the environment.

Source: For Udaipur’s Holi, Rajasthan’s semal trees are going up in flames