HIMALAYAN STRAWBERRY TREE
A tree of Himalayan strawberry
Synonyms: Benthamia capitata, Benthsmis fragifera, Benthamia capitata var. khasiana, Cornus capitata subsp. capitata, Cornus capitata var. khasiana, Cynoxylon capitatum, Cynoxylon glabriusculum, Dendrobenthamia capitata, Dendrobenthamia emeiensis
English names: Himalayan strawberry tree, Bentham’s Cornel, Evergreen dogwood, Headed-flowered dogwood, Mountain moon, Himalayan flowering dogwood.
Other names: Bhamora, Guldhara, Gulna, Thamia
Himalayan strawberry is an Asian tree and is widely distributed in East Asia, China and Himalayas. It grows in moist mixed evergreen forests at elevations of 1000 – 3000 metres.
A small evergreen tree with smooth grayish bark; upto 12 m tall; young branches are grayish green, pubescent and with white appressed trichomes; mature trees wider than tall.
Leaves and flowers of a Himalayan strawberry tree
Leaves entire, leathery, leathery, scabrous, with 3-4 veins and densely pubescent with thick white appressed trichomes on the lower side.
Flower buds globose and subtended by four (rarely six) rounded, dark creamy or yellowish petal-like bracts; flowers greenish yellow, very small, borne on globose cymes containing 30-50 minute flowers; petals 2-4 mm long and greenish in colour; style cylindrical, 1.5 mm, densely pubescent with white trichomes.
A flower of Himalayan strawberry
Fruit aggregate, an etaerio of drupes, reddish, coalesced into a succulent globular strawberry like head, 2.5-5.0 cm across.
Seed one, roughly six sided with a stubby remnant of central style.
The fruits of Himalayan strawberry tree ripen from September to November. These are spiky and red in colour at maturity. Hence these have been
popularly christened Himalayan “strawberry” by some. The fruits are fleshy and taste like overripe banana fruits. There is, however, variation in
taste from tree to tree and the fruit of some of the trees taste quite pleasant. Thus there is also a scope for selection of superior clones. The fruits are
mostly eaten raw. But at times these are also processed and made into a preserve.
Himalayan strawberry fruits
Bark of Himalayan strawberry trees is used for tanning. Young twigs are used as fodder. The wood is used mainly as fuel and for making tools.
Trees of Himalayan strawberry fruit mostly grow wild in the Himalayas. Nathaniel Wallichhas introduced some plants to England in 1825 after his expedition to Nepal. This tree seems to prefer heavy clay soils.
New plants can be raised from seeds separated from the fruit flesh, which contains germination inhibitors. The germination percentage is generally very poor (11.4-24.7%) in this plant. The cold stratification of seeds for 3 – 4 months improves the germination percentage. Water soaking and sulphuric acid soaking treatments have also been recommended. Plants can also be propagated through young cuttings.
Dr. Anil Kumar Thakur
Associate Professor of Botany
Government Post Graduate College
Solan, HP 173212 INDIA