Thursday 29 September 2016
facebook.com/Outlookindia twitter.com/outlookindia digimag.outlookindia.com instagram.com/outlookindia youtube.com/user/OutlookMagazine

Speaking Of Golden Boughs

A spectacular book on the jungle trees of India
Jungle Trees Of Central India: A Field Guide For Tree Spotters
By Pradip Krishen
Penguin | Pages: 400 | Rs. 1,499

Pradip Krishen has followed up his celebrated book on trees in Delhi with this spectacular book on the jungle trees of India. What started as a casual interest, nurtured on jungle walks dec­ades ago in the Delhi Ridge, and later in the forests around Pachmarhi with his tree guru, Nishikant Jadhav, has culminated in a painstaking labour of love.

Advertisement

On a comprehensive tour of the vast central Indian landscape, the author introduces its various forest types, ranging from sal and teak to savannah woodlands and thorn forests. He also explains, simply and effectively, the complex responses of the trees to the changing seasons—such as the timing of shedding leaves, flowering, formation of fruit and seed dispersal. He delves into the history and present status of the forests of central India, giving new insight into the problems of forest management. He also highlights the alarming reality of our biodiverse forests being rapidly replaced by a few timber-yielding species, and its dire consequences.

Krishen has used local names in his descriptions of trees, which require the reader to make an effort to familiarise, although scientific names and synonyms are also given. Using beautiful colour schemes and thumbnail keys, he has given a comprehensive pictorial guide for tree spotters that will aid in identifying trees based on their bark, flowers, fruit or leaves. The confusion in identifying two similar-looking trees is sorted out by pointing out subtle differences. The complex subject of classification and naming of trees has been simplified and made interesting.

Advertisement

The book’s biggest draw is the 2,018 photographs that even the most uninspired reader would find stirring.

There is also an interesting account on the ongoing war over the name ‘Acacia’ between the botanists of Australia and those from Asia and Africa, most recen­tly at the Botanical Congress in Sydney in 2011. As the dust settled, the Australians had appropriated the right to use the name Acacia for a large group of trees of the wattle family, despite a bitter contest from Asian and African botanists. I fir­mly stand behind the author, who has stuck to the use of the term Acacia to describe our group of thorny trees. The new possible substitutes, such as Vachellia or Senegelia, are unfamiliar and may not be acceptable despite the scientific verdict. Besides, ‘Acacia’ has sneaked into the vocabulary of even the uninitiated and hence is here to stay.

Jungle Trees of Central India is exquisitely designed and the photographs of some of my favourite trees, especially Haldu (pg 140), Anjan (pg 288) and Baheda (pg 184), are stunning and ethereal. Few are aware that taking good photos of trees is difficult; those who have tried it—like this reviewer—will admit that often the results are disappointing. Perhaps the biggest achievement of this book is the mind-boggling collection of 2,018 photographs that will stir even the most uninspired reader. It will be a daunting task for anyone to match its scientific accuracy, quality of pictorial presentation and depth and range of information—a must for any nature lover and a valuable tool for anyone with an interest in identifying trees. Indeed, Krishen’s own previous book is the only one that I can think of which comes close to matching his latest one.


(Vyas is a Supreme Court lawyer, wildlife activist and tree-lover)

Still Tightening The Veil Bibliofile
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail
THE LATEST ISSUE
CLICK IMAGE FOR CONTENTS
REVIEW
Review
Except for the excellent profiles, rehashed articles don’t serve Guha well
MAGAZINE September 21, 2016
Book Extract
The Honey Bee network gathers lessons in creativity from the grassroots
MAGAZINE September 21, 2016
Review
All the start-up entrepreneurs featured in the book have amazing stories to tell—of struggle, of peer pressure and of intrigue.
MAGAZINE September 15, 2016
Review
A compilation of the events that led to the 2013 IPL batting-fixing scandal and its consequences
MAGAZINE September 15, 2016
Review
Alexievich’s visceral first-person accounts from the last days of the USSR are saturated with anger, longing and hope
MAGAZINE September 15, 2016
read more>>>
OUTLOOK ON TWITTER
POLLS

More than a decade after India first started the procurement process, it has finally inked an €8bn agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault. The original deal was to buy 126 Rafales to replace the accident-prone Russian MiG-21s. Ultimately, the government offered to buy only 36 ready-to-fly planes.

POLL STARTED ON: Sep 26, 2016
Quiz
Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 31st Olympic Games from August 5 to 21. This is the first Olympics being held in South America and is going on even as a majority Brazilians are unhappy with their rulers. Here’s a quiz on some random Olympic facts and related trivia.
QUIZ STARTED ON: Aug 11, 2016
Advertisement