Monday, June 8, 2009

Checklist of trees in IIIT

Here's a checklist of trees (and a few shrubs) I have been able to identify in IIIT-H. These have been taken all over the campus, including the small garden behind the NBH mess. There are many ornamental plants in the campus, i.e. plants that are not native to India but have been planted for their flowers or their fast-growing properties. But there are also a few native trees- most obviously Neem, the Flame of the Forest, Jamun, Jhingan etc. These trees also attract many birds and insects when flowering/fruiting. I may have missed a few species in this list, but most of these are the most visible and common trees on campus.

  1. Banyan - Ficus benghalensis
  2. Guava - Psidium guajava
  3. Copper Pod - Peltophorum pterocarpum
  4. Teak - Tectonia grandis
  5. Kachnar/Mountain Ebony- Bauhinia variegata
  6. Kachnar - Bauhinia purpurea
  7. Dwarf Bauhinia - Bauhinia acuminata
  8. Shisham - Dalberia sisoo
  9. Takoli - Dalbergia lanceolaria
  10. Indian Elm/Kanju - Holoptelea integrifolia
  11. Palash/ Flame of the forest- Butea monosperma
  12. False Almond - Sterculia foetida
  13. Indian Almond - Terminalia catappa
  14. Sausage Tree - Kigelia pinnata
  15. Jamun - Syzigium cumini
  16. Brazilian Cassia - Cassia grandis
  17. Indian Laburnum - Cassia fistula
  18. Jacaranda - Jacaranda mimosifolia
  19. Gulmohar - Delonix regia
  20. Pongam - Pongamia pinnata
  21. Subabool - Leucaena leucocephala
  22. Neem - Azadirachta indica
  23. Badminton Ball tree - Parkia biglandulosa
  24. Phalsa - Grewia asiatica
  25. African Tulip Tree - Spathodea campanulata
  26. Devil's tree - Alstonia scholaris
  27. Shirish - Albizia lebbek
  28. Maulsari - Mimusops elengi
  29. Pink Trumpet flower - Tabebuia rosea
  30. Yellow Trumpet flower - Tabebuia aurea
  31. Drumstick tree - Moringa oleifera
  32. Apta - Bauhinia racemosa
  33. Jhingan - Llanea coromandelica
  34. Silver Oak - Grevillea robusta
  35. Earpod wattle - Acacia auriculiformis
  36. Peacock flower - Caesalpinia pulcherrima
  37. Rain tree - Albizia saman
  38. Singapore cherry- Muntingia calabura
  39. Pomegranate - Punica granatum
  40. Portia tree - Thespesia populnea
  41. Annatto - Bixa orellana
  42. Sicklebush- Dichrostachys cinerea
  43. Giant Milkweed - Calatropis gigantea
  44. Oleander - Nerium oleander
  45. Sago palm - Cycas revoluta
  46. False Eranthemum - Pseuderanthemum reticulatum
  47. Indian Ginger - Alpinia calcarata
  48. Dhavda - Anogeissus latifolia
  49. Common Night Glory - Rivea hypocrateriformis
  50. Golden Cane Palm - Dypsis lutescens

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What's that noise?!

If you've noticed a really loud, annoying sound in the middle of the afternoon on campus, it's this guy:

Cicada. Photo thanks to S.

It's a cicada, and he's calling out for a mate. Apparently the sound production is related to hot weather, so they can be heard during noon but I have also heard the cicadas calling late in the evening in the campus. The sound is ear-splitting, especially if you go closer. When there are two or three calling at once, it can be quite painful.

There's a very nice section devoted to cicadas on one of the Planet Earth series and it shows a species of periodic cicadas, whose nymphs emerge after 17 years from the ground. Not all species remain underground for so long though, some are annual and others stay for 2-5 years (wiki).

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Behind Motorola building, near parking lot

I have been noticing some new rubbish dumps in campus lately. So this Sunday morning, I thought they deserved a photo session of their own. I don't know who has been throwing this stuff around- it's basically made up of coffee cups, chips packets and biscuit wrappers. Perhaps it's coming from one of the canteens in the Motorola building? This one was taken in the area behind Motorola where the new construction is coming up. How does one find out more about this dumping? Can the Green Club people do more about this? Is the Green Club alive?

More 'dirty' pictures here and here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year

IIIT has its own snake god near a large termite mound. I don't know the local name, but looks like it's been here for a while. I hope this year it will exert a benign influence on the residents of this campus- both humans and wild animals.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wandering Glider

One of the things I like to do these days is watch dragonflies hovering and darting around the grasses near the coffee shop. There are really large swarms of them in campus. I recently got a chance to photograph this one:

This species of dragonfly is called the 'Wandering Glider' or 'Globe Skimmer' (Pantala flavescens). It's one of the most adaptable insects- once the dragonflies lay their eggs in the pools that the monsoon creates, within 72 days, the larvae transform into dragonflies. Then, these collect in huge swarms sometimes with other species of dragonflies. Apparently, the emergence of these coincides with the Onam festival and their local name in Kerala is Onathumbikal.

The dragonfly is also one of the most daring, undertaking long sea voyages and migrating to some of the most inhospitable places to find a suitable place to breed. This ability has allowed it to thrive all over the world. It has been known to fly fearlessly even in heavy rains, giving it the name of 'Typhoon Dragonfly'.

Their transparent wings and slender bodies would've never given a clue about such resilience! I always thought of dragonflies as rather delicate insects, catching some microscopic prey on the wing. Now, I think of them with some new found respect- there aren't too many creatures that small who can navigate tropical storms with ease!

Some more info is available here:

Globetrotter Dragonfly

Monday, September 1, 2008


I thought I should blog a bit about the Banyan tree as it's IIIT's 10th anniversary as well as its official symbol. The Banyan (Ficus benghalensis) is well known for its aerial roots and its gigantic spread, especially in some old trees but it's less known for its rather amazing life cycle.

Banyan trees don't have flowers in the conventional sense. The Ficus species bear figs but the flowers are inside the fruit! This phenomenon is due to an amazing interaction between the tree and a special kind of wasp called the fig wasp.

When we eat a fig, we're actually eating the flowers inside the 'container' that is the fig. The flowers are of three kinds- male, female and a third kind which is the gall flower. The fig wasp, which is responsible for pollinating the flowers is born inside the fig. Male and female fig wasps also mate inside the fig, but only the winged female flies out of her cradle after mating (the male has a minor role to play in the drama!).

She flies to a different ficus tree that is bearing figs and enters a new fig to lay her eggs in the special gall-flowers. While doing so, she brushes against the female flowers and pollen is deposited on them. The flowers get pollinated and the figs can now take seed.

It's quite a story... the mighty fig depends on a tiny wasp for its entire reproductive cycle. The wasp is also choosy- each kind of ficus has its own species of wasp and it can only lay its eggs inside its figs.

Our campus has only two banyan trees that I know of- one near the Main building and the other behind A-block. Incidentally, banyan trees are also one of the best places to watch all kinds of birds because they love feasting on its fruits. One of the most beautiful of these is the Golden Oriole. It's a very shy bird with a red bill and a golden yellow plumage. I have always seen it around these Banyan trees on campus. Here is a photo, but not a very good one:

I hope people start noticing trees around campus, there are many interesting things to be seen. I have quite a few photographs that I took around April this year. Perhaps I should start a tree series on this blog as it has been idle for quite a while!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


After the rains many interesting creatures come out into the open. This scorpion was one of them last night. It prefers living underground most of the time and is nocturnal. Although it is feared for its bite, the venom in the scorpion sting is not fatal for human beings. It can cause some discomfort but not death.

The picture below, of a dead scorpion was taken in the morning. Toads, frogs, snakes, squirrels and now scorpions are in my list of roadkills in the campus. It's rather sad but I don't know what can really be done about it. I was also informed that some of the security staff were deliberately killing the scorpions when they found them. I suppose it was done in the interests of safety but these scorpions won't harm unless provoked. It's the same paranoia that results in many snakes getting killed as well. I hope some of these scorpions survive the monsoon!