Sausage Tree (Thiruvallur - Tamil Nadu)

Recently, mom came to know of a tree near Redhills near Chennai. So we planned to venture there. First I thought, it would be a tough challenge to find it! Fortunately that proved easy enough... As soon as I got out of the bus at Red Hills Bus Terminus, there, right opp. the bus stand were the huge trees!!! Look at its size when compared to the bus!!!
So, what was this tree I went in search of? Its called a Sausage tree! Sausage??? That's a weird name right??? Well, why is it so? We'll come to that later.... In the local language Tamil its called Kal Thekku...
The tree is scientifically called Kijelia Pinnata. Its also called Kijelia Africana for obvious reasons - it belongs to Africa. And that's the very reason, why this tree is so special. Its seen a lot in Africa, esp. West Africa. Its considered a herbal medicine in the traditional medicine of Africa. The tree is found very less in India and this is the only place in Chennai where this tree is found!!! There were 5 trees in the main road and that's it!!!!! Pretty close to this locality is the Pazhaverkadu and Sadras which have Dutch cemetry & forts standing till date. My wild guess is that, the Dutch might have got it here few centuries ago! Remember, the traditional route by sea, from Europe to India, touches Africa? A bit of Googling told me that the tree is also present in Pondicherry, Kolkata and Ghaziabad (near Agra) which were also Dutch settlements in India! 
The flower is in bunches and hangs upside down, somewhat similar to Golden Shower tree, but are really dark in color, almost maroon! The aroma of the flower is not very pleasant, but that's what attracts the bats, which helps in cross pollination.
Earlier I told you the tree is called a Sausage tree, right? Well, here's why its so called. The fruits of the tree resemble, sausage!!! The fruits can grow 30-100 cm long and grow more than 5 kgs. Luckily when I ventured here, I managed to spot a fruit that had fallen down. It was 33cm long, 30cm circumference and weighed 2 kgs.
I took the sausage errr.. I mean, the fruit back home so I could break into it and see what's inside and how does the tree look? I thought it would break easily with a single bang on the floor. I never expected this could be a challenge! How big a challenge??? 

Well, I smashed my 4 kg dumbbells onto it again and again and smashed the fruit itself onto a rock several times, only to have a mild crack onto the fruit!!! Anyways, while breaking it, it  gave neither pleasant nor weird odour. I dare not try tasting it, so I have no clue about the taste! For now, I've just let the fruit aside, so it could dry and rot to some extent and breaking it won't be so tough then!!!
Well, the tree has been surviving for decades together, in such a populated area, that too right in front of a busstand! Now, the bigger challenge is to make it survive for the decades ahead, coz of their heavily populated location!!! Well, the people and properties have to be protected from any possible damage, these huge, heavy fruits might do when they fall down. And the tree has to be protected from the people who might want to take them down, if something like that occurs!!! My suggestion is to regularly cut down the fruits alone as they grow, so the trees are spared!!!! Anyone of Chennai Corporation or Thiruvallur Municipality reading this???
Update: The fruit is easily confused with Calabash / Bottle Gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) which is used for cooking and the fibrous interior is used as bathing brush. Sausage tree's fruit is much bigger and heavier when compared to that!
P.S: This post is an entry for the Relish the Challenge contest by Cinthol.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

17 comments:

  1. interesting info and photos...

    first time seeing it

    thanks bhusha

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting tree.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.in.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi. Nice note... Lots of these are there across Besant Nagar, Adayar, Whites Road and even inside Anna University and MTS :)

    Also, am sure you are aware that the distance between Pulicat and Sadras is 137 Km (http://goo.gl/maps/f9GK4)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. I'm coming to know of it. The tree has been planted about a decade ago, in quite a few places all over Chennai by the Madras Corporation's Horticulture Dept!
      Btw, Yeah, I'm aware of the distance between Pulicat and Sadras. But its nothing when compared to Dutch to Africa to India! The Pondicherry Dutch colony would have considered both the places are one!!!

      Delete
  4. Think, I know that plant and that strong string filled fruit even. It is being used for washing arms and legs in small villages earlier... Check that out, you might will get seeds inside...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No no dear. That is different. Its called Sorakkai in Tamil. After your comment I added an 'update' in the last para in the post....

      Delete
  5. Dumbles'la excercise panra aalu mathiri theriyalaye!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahaaa.. Yean Jij...??? Sadhaaranama Dumbbells panna perusa difference theriyaadhu... Gym poi weights thookinaa dhan, gym body maadhiri irukkum... :) :) :)

      Delete
  6. Hi Bhushavali,

    Interesting info reg sausage tree...Have you seen the flowers??? I have photographed it
    near Poes garden (CM's territory) with curious cops questioning me last month...
    There is a huge tree @ the Besant avenue & Adyar junction near Aavin circle..another
    one @ Alwarpet signal on TTK road.

    Bhanu

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha. I had quite a few locals when I was photographing this one.
      And yeah, I saw the flowers. But I couldn't shoot them as they were very high and my camera couldn't capture that!!! :(

      Delete
  7. Nice one, Heard for the first time sausage tree...

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  8. You can see Sausage tree in Marina beach in Chennai . Bhushavali's note as 'Suraakkay' was wrong, I think ; It is PEERKKU ! Because only fibres of Peerkku are used as 'bathing wash'; Tamil name for Sausage tree is YANAIP PUDUKKU ( 'penis of elephant') ; But I told the forest officilas to change the name ! Let us call Sausage tree as ULAKKAI MARAM ('pestle tree') in Tamil from today thanks to MY TRAVELOGUE !-

    Dr.S.Soundarapandian
    M.A.(Tamil), M.A.(English), B.Ed.,Dip.(Sanskrit) ,Ph.D
    Chennai - 33

    ReplyDelete

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