Saturday, April 12, 2008
Of Light and Shade
A good tea planter is also a good tree planter! When tea is grown in the plains, shade trees like these are planted to regulate temperatures to around 25 degrees C - the optimum temperature for the tea bush. A first time visitor to a tea garden always asks how trees managed to pop up in the middle of all the tea! A close look at the picture shows how the trees have been planted in rows, and I hope you can see how dense the shadows in the foreground are. The shade is really cool, while it gets very hot under the sun. Most of these trees are bokain, which is a kind of wild neem.
This huge specimen, an Albizia Maranguensis, is about ten metres tall. At its widest point, the canopy measures 10 meters across. The tea bushes in the background grow to about three feet in height. I found this tree growing by the side of the state highway running between Falakata and Birpara towns. Albizias belong to the family of legumes, and they are all mimosa trees. Some varieties produce flowers that look like fragile shaving brushes.