Himalayan Strawberry Tree
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Himalayan Strawberry Tree
ative Photo: Shaista Ahmad
Common name: Himalayan Strawberry Tree, Evergreen Dogwood, Bentham's Cornel
Botanical name: Cornus capitata    Family: Cornaceae (Dogwood family)
Synonyms: Benthamidia capitata, Benthamia capitata, Cynoxylon capitatum

Himalayan Strawberry Tree is a small evergreen tree, leaves a paler green underneath, with prominent ribs. The flowers feature four (rarely six) rounded, dark creamy or yellowish petal-like bracts in June or early July. Sometimes the bracts fade to mauvy-pink. The actually tiny flowers are packed in the central head. In bloom the tree is beautiful. The ensuing fruit is a compound headlike cluster of reddish berries, up to 2 inches wide, edible but not delectable; ripe in fall. The 1820 epithet capitata means headed; from Latin caput, head, referring to the moundlike heads of flowers and fruits. The extraordinary red fruit body is composed of 30 or 40 pink, fused, roughly six-sided fruits each with a stubby, central-style remnant. It is interesting to watch the different stages of development of the fruit, which is eaten in India, starting from a tiny granulated green knob subtended by four bracts whose shadows can be seen long after the bracts fall. The wood was familiar in Greek times for use in javelins. Himalayan Strawberry Tree is found in the Himalayas, from Himachal Pradesh to SW China, at altitudes of 1200-3400 m.

Identification credit: Nongthombam Ullysess, G.S. Goraya Photographed in Shimla & GHNP, Himachal Pradesh.

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