A Red Cassia in late flower

The late-blooming Red Cassia sets the avenue canopy aflame, flowering as it does when all colour is spent after the monsoon’s departure
In early August I had posted an encounter with the lovely Red Cassia (Cassia roxburghii) and that was already late for the summer flowering season in the subcontinent. Not so for the Red Cassia, though.
Drenched and parted from the tree during the uncannily timed Diwali showers, a flower on the road hosts an ant
Now that the monsoon has receded from most of the country and only my hometown Pondicherry (and the lower coast of TN) had the singular fortune of torrential rainfall on Diwali, a C roxburghii is in full bloom. The tree does flower late but even most other Red Cassias are now done.
Cassias have the ability to hybridize and I have mentioned very different color variations earlier (assuming the brick-red to be the type specimen). This particular tree at the end of J N Street seems to be yet another variation. The flowers are not brick-red; they have a bit of yellow and unlike the first variation, have plenty of pink. The clusters and the flowers are similar to the red cassia — three long stamens, curved inwards; unlike those of Java Cassia, they are not swollen in the middle. The rest of the stamens are smaller.
October 28, the Red Cassia in bloom. Not quite as rich as the Java Cassia’s pink, but flowering is profuse
The same tree at the end of J N Street in Pondicherry, notice the predominant pink hue
The type specimen – notice the brick red shade of the clusters
Another Red Cassia variation in yellow and pink
A cluster of the specimen in question – a few yellow flowers but mainly pink
Rain-drenched leaves and a pink bunch
Another cluster from the same tree, the browns are creeping in — dead flowers
Brilliant brick red (with a few yellows and pinks) of the type specimen.
This one finished flowering a month ago
Is this the last red Cassia in bloom? I am tempted to say so but cannot be certain. If you plan to plant flowering trees in your home garden or along an avenue, do consider the Red Cassia. There is nothing like it to brighten up an overcast day and catch the sun as it breaks through the clouds.
Text and photos by Sahastrarashmi
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