Cork Bush
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Cork Bush
ative Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Cork Bush, silver bush, Rhodesian silver-leaf • Kannada: ಬೆಟ್ಟಹುರುಳಿ betta hurali, ಹೇನುಕುರುವಿನ ಗಿಡ haenukuruvina gida, kaadu beeta hurali, ಪುಲ್ಸಾರೆ Pulsaare • Tamil: Kattuppurachu • Telugu: kondavempali, palasaram, palasarapatti, verribilludu
Botanical name: Mundulea sericea    Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
Synonyms: Tephrosia sericea, Robinia suberosa, Dalbergia sericea

Cork Bush is an attractive virgately branched shrub or a graceful small tree 0.5-7.5 m tall, usually single-stemmed with a bushy, much-branched crown. Bark, stem and branches are pale, corky and deeply furrowed-a fine contrast to the delicate silver-grey to light green foliage. Plants growing in an evergreen habitat, devoid of fire, are usually tall, single-stemmed trees with a greenish yellow and smooth bark with almost imperceptible longitudinal fissures. They are strikingly different from the more frequently encountered form from whence the English common name, cork bush, is derived. Young branches are tough and pliant. Leaves are alternate, compound, covered with silky silver hairs, 8-10 cm long, with 4-10 pairs of leaflets with an additional terminal leaflet, all about 1.3 cm long, oval to lance-shaped, pale green. The flowers are showy and pea-like, carried in terminal clusters in a rich violet, mauve and lilac or even white. The fruit are pods, about 10 cm long and narrow, with thickened yellow-brown rims, becoming brown-grey as they mature, velvety hairy and may persist on the branches throughout winter. Each pod contains 1-11 brownish-green, kidney-shaped seeds. The wood is light yellow, tough, and hard and produces a strong, unpleasant scent when worked. Cork Bush is found in South Africa, north to tropical Africa, and east to Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea.

Identification credit: Shrikant Ingalhalikar Photographed in Belgaum, Karanataka.

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