In Septemer 2019, SeasonWatch held its fourth bioblitz event called the September Tree Quest. The idea of this event was to rapidly collect phenology data on the common and widespread trees of India in September, after the monsoon and before the winter season. This month was marked with warm temperatures in northern India, while the south and the north-east India continued to experience some rain every now and then.
During the September Tree Quest, 93 individuals, 41 schools and colleges contributed 7812 observations from 20 states and 2 UTs. We saw a dip in the total number of observations from south India, but glad to see that north India was represented by a lot of trees from Uttarakhand. With this bioblitz, we now have a full seasonal cycle of how some of the most observed trees behave across India and we are thrilled to report the patterns in this edition of the newsletter!
Congratulations and thanks to all contributors, and most of all to our extremely committed and enthusiastic tree watchers - school children!
Teak, Tectona grandis, was the most observed species during the Quest. PC: K M Vinay via Twitter
Top 10 Species
This Quest, the top species was Teak, same as last time, followed by Jackfruit, Mango, Neem and Gulmohur. All India, top ten species were as follows:
Teak- Tectona grandis
Jackfruit- Artocarpus heterophyllus
Mango (all varieties)- Mangifera indica
Neem- Azadirachta indica
Gulmohur- Delonix regia
Rain tree-Samanea saman
Robusta coffee-Coffea robusta
Custard apple-Annona squamosa
Top 10 States
Most number of observations came from the following 10 states. 70% of all observations came from Kerala!
No. of observations
"My first September Tree Quest species" images contributed by participants on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. L-R, Devil's tree Alstonia scholaris (Vena Kapoor via Twitter), Bottlebrush tree Calistomon viminalis (Prachi Thatte via Twitter) and Arjuna tree Terminalia arjuna (Geetha Ramaswami)
We are very thankful to all the individuals, schools and colleges who participated in the September Tree Quest! Our challenge during this event was to see at least 10 trees of any species from the SeasonWatch list of trees. We selected one individual and one school as lucky draw winners from each region (see below). Congratulation to all the winners! Here is a list of everyone who participated (and the number of trees they observed) in alphabetical order; all individuals and schools who qualified for our lucky-draw are highlighted in boldface text, and our lucky draw winners (region in brackets) highlighted in blue, boldface text:
Abdurahiman Smarakam(1), Amrita Vidyalayam kodungallur(5), Anderson H. S. S.(4), Bemannur G.U.P.S. (32), Bharathamatha HSS(7), Blossoms English School(140), C.M.G.H.S.S.- Kuttur(2), C.P.N.M. G.H.S.S. Mathamangalam(363), Dr. N.International School(1), Eriam Vidyamithram U.P. School(1), G.V.&H.S.S. Alamkode(423), G.G.B.H.S. Challapuram(3), G.H.S.S. Chelora (2), G.H.S.S. Mathil(34), Govt Higher Secondary School(2), Govt U.P.S. Edavilakom (Visishta Haritha Vidyalayam)(32), Govt V.H.S.S. Veeranakavu (125), Govt. H. S. Kudavoorkonam(31), Govt.U.P. School Kongad(28), Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya(2), K.K. Kidav Memorial UP School(19), Lutheran H.S.S. Southaryad (2), M.T.S.S.K.G.U.P.School(825, South), Maee(458, North), Mawphlang Secondary School(16), MET English Medium High School(6), N.I.S.E.R.(1), Panchayat Union Middle School Thalavaipatty (57), Pariong Presbytery Higher Secondary School(20), Rev. T. J. Jones Presbyterian School(111, East-Northeast), S.D.V. Girls H.S. (13), S.D.V.G.U.P.S.-Neerkunnam(34), Shahid Manoj Singh Chohan(GIC Gaindi Khata)(47), Shri Sitarama Raju Government Girls College Neemuch-MP(16), St.Helens GHS Lourdepuram(1816), Stella Maris(8), T.S.S.G.U.P.S.- Thakkzhy(37), U.M.L.P.S. Thiruvilwamala(1), V.V.H.S.S Poredom(29)
Students at M.T.S.S.K.G.U.P., Kerala, make observations with their teacher
Participants of a Tree Walk at the National Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhubaneswar
We spoke to some of our contributors about their experience participating in the Tree Quest and what inspires them to look at nature.
Annamma T Baby is a teacher at M.T.S.S.K.G.U.P School, Kerala, a regular contributor at SeasonWatch "We started SeasonWatch programme in our school since 2016 with a batch of 30 students", she says. When asked how the schools' experience was partcipating in the tree quest, she says "For Tree Quest we observed the trees from Thiruvalla to Konny area belongs to Pathanamthitta District nearly a distance of 55 kilometers". Apart from the tree quests, Annama teachers' students have a keen interest in nature and observed some interesting things during the Tree Quest: "My batch of students are very much interested in observing trees,birds,butterflies and even the changing nature. Children from 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th standard participate in this programme. While our observation we noticed the variations in the same species of trees like Kanikonna. We noticed that some trees are bloom at the top of its head hiding the leaves and some in a very dull manner.This same case is with Teak and even Mango trees too". She concludes, saying "Season watch guides us to increase the observation skills of our students which help them to create a nature loving minds from their early childhood and gives them an awareness to protect our mother earth from every hazard"
Prachi Thatte works with the World Wildlife Fund and made her observations from the state of Uttarakhand. She is the lucky-draw winner from the north region with 99 trees. "I was in Dehradun on the first day of September tree quest. Rain tree, African tulip and jacaranda, familiar city trees for a Bangalorean, were not so common in Dehradun. I had fun looking at and reporting trees over the next three days while traveling in southern Uttarakhand. September tree quest motivated me to try and identify and learn more about trees around me." she says about her experience participating in the Tree Quest.
Images contributed by participants of the "Yellow flower challenge" conducted before the September Tree Quest on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. L-R, flowers of Falsa tree Grewia asiatica (@alwrites via Twitter), an Indian laburnum tree Cassia fistula in full bloom (@bindasfauji via Twitter), a chestnut shouldered petronia on an Indian buttercup tree Cochlospermum religiosum (Preethy Prashanth via Twitter)
Swati Kittur participated from Rajasthan and won the lucky-draw in the central-western region. She says about her experience, "For the first 2 days of the September tree quest we were travelling. But the good thing about the tree quest is that it can be done anywhere, as long as there are trees around and you know your location on a map. There was very little network coverage so I noted down the phenology of the trees and the location. I entered the data later". The simple act of noticing trees around her neighbourhood has givenSwati a new perspective on trees: "Ever since I started recording trees for SeasonWatch a year ago I have noticed that I now observe the phenology of trees around me more often and more carefully. The highlight this tree quest was that I could record white babool trees for the first time, which I was only able to identify because they were flowering". Like Swati, many of us tend to notice trees more when they are flowering. It's also the best time to make friends with trees, since flowering time is also a time of the great frenzy of pollinator activity!
Students from GIC Gaindi Khata, Uttarakhand, participated in the Tree Quest
Surendher Bhoobalan from Puducherry won the lucky-draw from the south region. We asked him to tell us about his experience participating in the Tree Quest and here is what he had to say: " It was a great experience and a wonderful feeling observing trees. The September Tree Quest had changed my perspective of admiration at trees not merely by looking at the colour of the flowers, size of the fruits, shape of the leaves, massiveness of the trunks etc. But also to contribute for a comprehensive data collection for studying our natural environment". He found a Kadamba (Neolamarckia cadamba) in full bloom quite the sight to behold, but his favorite tree is the state tree of Puducherry - the Cannonball Tree (Couroupita guianensis) - because of it's beautiful, fragrant flowers. His most interesting observation was about the possible correlation between tree age and phenology: "After observing several trees in the tree quest, I personally feel that there is a connection between the age of the trees and its response to the changing environment. I had observed that most of the old Mahua trees (இலுப்பை) of similar age group planted alongside the National Highway had more fresh leaves than the trees of smaller age group. A detailed study needs to be done on this. Perhaps tree quest may crack it open!"
The Kadamba (Neolamarckia cadamba) tree had ripe fruits in some regiosn during the September Tree Quest. PC: Dinesh Valke via Wikimedia commons.
We were able to look at phenology patterns across multiple seasons for some of the more well-observed species, and we present these data here.
Mango is a very widespread species and shows different phenology across latitude. The map below shows the location of all the trees that have been reported across all the tree quests, while the graph shows a summary of the proportion of trees with fresh leaves, open flowers and ripe fruits across all four quests. Most trees observed had flowers during the Spring Tree Quest in March, while they had ripe fruits during the Summer Tee Quest in June.
Another commonly observed widespread species during the quests is Neem. This species almost completely overlaps with Mango in terms of locations from where it was reported from all the tree quests. The graph shows that while there was a flowering peak in March, the fruiting peak was probably missed between the two Tree Quests (since it does not show up in June)!
A popular summer fruit to eat in India is the purple, astringent, tongue-staining jamun! It was a commonly reported species during our tree quests and across India, interestingly showed most flowers and ripe fruits at the same time in the month of June during the Summer Tree Quest.
Although not one of our most commonly observed species, Indian laburnum (other common names - Kanikonna, Amaltas, golden showers tree) is quite a sight to behold when in flower. In March this year, during the Spring Tree Quest there was a very clear flowering peak, with nearly all trees observed showing flowers. Also interesting to note is the simultaneous dip in trees with fresh leaves. This is because in many places, Indian Laburnum is nearly leafless when it flowers. The pink bar in the graph indicates the period of intensive flowering in the species as recorded from the Tree Quests.
Write to us!
Would you like to see any other kinds of summaries of the data you have contributed? Do you have queries about the data you collected, the SeasonWatch app or trees in general? Send us an email at email@example.com or a WhatsApp message at +91 73495 67602. You can send us queries and suggestions on these contacts too!