September 2018

Magnificent Trees of the Island
September 2018

Sri Lanka is a beautiful tropical island blessed with lush greenery. There are many trees that are significant to the country. Spot some of these magnificent trees as you journey across the country.

Bo Tree (Fig)
The sprawling Bo Tree is a sacred tree in Sri Lanka especially for Buddhists. The Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura is said to be a branch of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in India. Thus the sacred Bo Tree can be seen at all temples in the country.

Na (Ironwood)
The National Tree of Sri Lanka, Na has bright pinkish red leaves that mature into a deep green. Various parts of the tree have healing properties and is used in Ayurveda. Na blossoms have four petals and golden centres with yellow stamens.

Siyambala (Tamarind)
Siyambala is a large tree which grows in the semi-dry zone of the island. The long, curved brown tamarind pods are filled with small seeds, surrounded by a sticky pulp that has a sour-sweet flavour. The pulp can be eaten alone; it is also used in seasoning food because of its distinct sweet-sour taste.

Palu grows abundantly in the arid zone and along the sandy coast. A towering evergreen tree, Palu starts bearing fruits between June to September. The juicy palu fruit is a favourite among both humans and animals including sloth bears. The Palu tree and its fruits can be seen in Kumana, Yala, Wilpattu and other national parks.

Hora is one of the tallest canopy trees in the island and is endemic to Sri Lanka. Its flowers, colloquially known as, ‘Hora Kurulla' bloom in April. The hora seed has two ‘wings' and whirl in the air like a spinning-top as it falls off from the tree.

Nuga (Banyan)
The Nuga Tree is associated with various deities in folklore and thus is considered a spiritual tree in Sri Lanka. The Banyan tree boasts a massive trunk and glossy big leaves while its aerial roots create a dramatic curtain.

Sal (Cannonball)
The beautiful Sal flower is unique in appearance and has petals that are of a pinkish-red hue. The tree is unusual in that the flowers grow on a thick extrusion that develop out of the trunk. The Sal tree is sacred to Buddhists as it was under the Sal tree that the Buddha was born and his Parinibbana too was under a Sal tree.

Kohomba (Margosa)
Kohomba trees flourish well in extremely dry areas and unlike many tropical plants, have a rapid growth rate. The plant extracts including the flowers, leaves, fruit and gum have been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years. The Kohomba tree can be seen in abundance in the North of the island.

Coconut trees are found in abundance in Sri Lanka. One of the most versatile trees in the island every part of a coconut tree has a use. Coconut water is refreshing, and coconut husks are used to make coir ropes or make craft items. Dried coconut leaves were used to thatch the traditional mud houses. The trees produce flowers every month and these are still being used in traditional Sri Lankan ceremonies.

A large and leafy tree with a gray trunk, found in the dry zone of the island. The brilliant red fruit of Veera attracts many birds and especially the sloth bear when the tree is full of fruits.