Ten of my favourite tree songs

Two years ago, in May 2017, my husband, I, and our daughter—then three years old—shifted from Delhi to Noida. We had a lot of teething troubles, and even after we had more or less settled down, I kept missing (I still miss) the trees of Delhi. Not that Noida doesn’t have trees; it does. It’s just that the area we live in lacks the great big giants, many decades old, that are so much a part of Delhi.

But we do have a lovely little park in the middle of our housing society, and one day in June 2017, I took our child along there for a little picnic. We read a couple of books, she had a jam sandwich and some lemonade. We looked up at a stunning cabbage palm above the bench we were sitting on. I took a photo of that palm from our point of view, and later that day, I posted that on Facebook. I tagged it #LookingUpAtTrees. That photo became a landmark photo for me: it made me want to post more photos of looking up at trees. So I did. Over the next two years, I’ve become obsessed with trees (among the various other things I’m obsessed with). I photograph them, I want to know more about them, every time I travel, I keep an eye out for species not seen in and around the NCR. And, every week, I post a #LookingUpAtTrees photo (all of these posts are public, so if you’re on Facebook , you can see them even if you’re not on my friends network – just look for my personal page, Madhulika Liddle).

Yesterday I posted the hundredth photo in the series (of a landmark tree: a sal tree at the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun; it was planted in 1956 by the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad). With it, as always, was a brief write-up about the tree.

That called for a celebration in song too, I thought. A list of tree songs. Not Parbaton ke pedon par (not that I could think of too many songs that did feature ‘ped’ or ‘vriksh’ or ‘darakht’, for that matter), but songs that featured tree species. Besides my usual criteria (pre-70s songs, and those too from films that I’ve seen), I imposed the two following restrictions on myself:

– The tree should be named in the first two lines of the song.
– No two songs should feature the same tree species.

So, ten songs, ten trees. And—relaxing my rule of only one song per film—here is the list, in no particular order.

1. Neem. Mila hai kisi jhumka, thande-thande hare-hare neem tale (Parakh, 1960): Azadirachta indica is the scientific name of the neem tree, probably one of the most commonly known Indian trees. It’s native to the Indian subcontinent (hence the ‘indica’ in its botanical name) and is associated with all sorts of beneficial uses, from its twigs being used to clean teeth, to its new leaves being fried and eaten, to its abilities as an insect repellant.

The neem is not the first thing that tends to strike people in this lovely little song from Parakh: it’s the hibiscus, the flower Sadhana’s character so charmingly dubs a ‘jhumka’, which she’s found lying under the neem tree. The neem, with its cool green shade. Sadly, the actual tree that appears in the song’s picturization looks to me, at least from what I can tell, a mango tree rather than a neem one. Despite that, though, a wonderful reference to the neem.

2. Date Palm. Dekhoji chaand nikla peechhe khajoor ke (Ali Baba Aur Chaalees Chor, 1954): Phoenix dactylifera is the date palm, a species that is believed to have originated somewhere in Egypt and Mesopotamia from where it spread out to a much wider area across Northern Africa and all the way into South Asia. What we see in India, the ‘khajur’ (which, incidentally, gives its name to Khajuraho, which once had these trees aplenty) is a related wild species: Phoenix sylvestris, the wild date palm, which is shorter than the real deal.

When you set a film in the Middle East, it would be unthinkable to not have a palm tree appear at least somewhere in the narrative. And, sure enough, here’s Shakila, swaying and singing about the moon rising behind the date palm. No real palm trees, here: all that’s in evidence is a painted backdrop which features both the palm tree (laden with fruit) and the crescent moon.

3. Peepal. Pipra ke patwa sarikhe dole manwa (Godaan, 1963): Ficus religiosa or peepal is, along with a fellow ficus (the banyan), probably one of the most revered trees in India. In Hinduism, Vishnu is believed to have been born under a peepal tree and the tree is therefore associated with him. Gautam Buddha is supposed to have attained enlightenment under a peepal tree, and so the tree is also sacred to Buddhists—plus a big draw for birds, squirrels and the like, when it’s fruiting!)

Pipra ke patwa sarikhe dole manwa draws attention to a somewhat unusual and often overlooked characteristic of peepal trees: the way their leaves flutter and rustle in the slightest of breezes. The rest of the song has nothing to do with peepals or other trees (it’s all about homesickness and lovesickness and a man going home to his family), but I love the setting, the beauty of the countryside. And the start of the song, with the fluttering leaves of a peepal tree reflected in water… yes, that’s very appropriate.

4. Meri beri ke ber mat todo (Anokhi Raat, 1969): Zizyphus mauritiana is known as the Indian jujube or the Indian plum, and in Hindi as ber. It grows wild in many places across India and produces a fruit which, despite its fairly pedestrian nature (who really values something that is so easily obtained, and doesn’t even need to be bought?), is popular enough.

Hindi cinema has used the ber in several songs, including Bangle ke peechhe teri beri ke neeche and Meri ber ki ber mat todo (both, ironically enough, remixed into highly popular tunes). Since Samadhi (1972) is outside of the scope of my blog, I choose Meri beri ke ber mat todo. In a film which had some really good songs, this one is the least favourite of mine, but it fits the situation very well: an innuendo-riddled song which serves to arouse an old man to such an extent that he forces the helpless dancer into marrying him. The double entendre here is unmistakable: the ber has been ‘planted’ by the singer’s father, her mother has nurtured it, her brother has guarded it. And she, equating herself with Shabari, asserts that she will keep her bers only for Ram, who can truly appreciate them.

5. Mango. Ambuwa ki daari se bole re koyaliya (Dahej, 1950): One of those quintessentially Indian trees (it’s even reflected in the scientific name of the species: Mangifera indica), mango is pretty much the king of fruits when it comes to India. India is the world’s leading producer of mangoes, contributing to 40% of the world’s total mango crop. There are hundreds of cultivars of mangoes, of which among the most popular are apus (alphonso), langda, chausa, and dussehri. Interestingly, the significance of mango (which is the national fruit of India and Pakistan) doesn’t stop at the fruit: the leaves are considered auspicious, Ganesh is sometimes depicted holding a mango (as a symbol of attainment) and mango blossoms—baur or manjari, in Hindi—are used in the worship of Saraswati.

And, it appears in songs as well. Not so much as a fruit but as a tree. A tree on which a bird sits, singing its song. Kanan Devi and Pahari Sanyal’s beautiful Ambuwa ki daali-daali from Vidyapati (1937) is probably the most famous and well-loved song of this type, but from a little over a decade later, there is also the pleasant Ambuwa ki daari se bole re koyaliya. This is one song where there’s absolutely no attempt to even have the tree (or even the koyal, for that matter) in the picturization of the song. Just a newlywed couple (played by Jayshree and Karan Dewan), with the singer-bride telling her groom to desist from consummating the marriage. Another innuendo-riddled song.

6. Chalo chalo chalein hum babool ke tale (Ali Baba Aur Chaalees Chor, 1954): Acacia nilotica, known in English as gum arabic tree and in Hindi as babool or keekar, is a native of West Asia, a tree that can survive (and even flourish) in fairly adverse environmental conditions. It is also a useful tree, providing everything from fodder to timber, honey, gum, dyes and traditional medicines, and is used for soil reclamation and as a fire guard and wind guard. In some areas, like the Galapagos Islands, babool has become a weed, but in India at least it’s still much-loved.

… loved enough for a couple to think of sitting under a babool tree as part of a date.  Unlike the unadulterated romance suggested by the other tree song from this film (Dekhoji chaand nikla peechhe khajoor ke), this one takes a more practical route. The woman, who obviously knows her trees well (or at least the babool) counters her beloved’s suggestion with a valid argument: the babool has thorns, she’ll get pricked. Also, the tree’s so very far (the tree, or at least an artistic representation of it, is right behind them, though).

A fun song, and one of the rare ones (I think) with a babool at the heart of it.

7. Frangipani. Champakali dekho jhuk hi gayi (Ziddi, 1964): Plumeria—whether alba or rubra (common white, pink or red frangipani) or obtusa (white frangipani)—is known in Hindi as champa, and is one of the most beloved of India’s fragrant flowers. Flowering trees like gulmohar or amaltas may be more flamboyant, but when it comes to elegance and fragrance, it’s hard to beat the champa. Also known as temple tree, the frangipani is revered in various faiths across East Asia in particular, with tiny statues of the Buddha being traditionally carved of its wood, and the tree itself being planted in temple grounds (the oldest frangipani tree I have ever seen was a hundred year old beauty in the courtyard of Hampi’s Vitthala Temple).

That a beautiful and attractive young woman would be called a ‘champakali’ (‘the bud of a champa’) is hardly surprising, then—the flowers, after all, are the best-loved feature of this tree. Unfortunately, though, the picturization of this otherwise pleasant song is marred by the fact that there’s not a sign of any champa flowers, not even a bare tree, in the entire almost four minutes of it.

8. Screwpine. Ketaki gulab juhi champak ban phoole (Basant Bahar, 1956): The screwpine is known by different names: Pandanus odorifer is its botanical name, but in Hindi it’s commonly known as kewra or ketaki, the highly-scented leaves and flowers of which impart an almost cloyingly sweet fragrance to a variety of dishes. Ketaki mostly appears as a large shrub, but can grow to tree size, when it resembles a palm tree.

In this iconic song from Basant Bahar, the ketaki is referred to in terms of its flowers. Other flowers of spring are mentioned in the song, too: roses, jasmine (juhi), magnolia (champak)—but it’s ketaki which comes first. There are no references in the picturization, since this is, after all, a music competition held indoors and the theme of spring is just that: a theme. It’s interesting to note that while all the flowers listed are renowned for their fragrance, the ketaki is the only one which isn’t also famed for its beauty: the ketaki’s flowers are nothing to write home about when it comes to looks.

9. Indian sandalwood. Chandan ka palna resham ki dori (Shabaab, 1954): The most expensive wood in the world is African blackwood; the second most expensive is Indian sandalwood, prized for its fragrance, which—unlike the fragrance of other aromatic woods, including other sandalwoods, too—can last for decades altogether. Santalum album, as this species is called, is a protected species and all trees in India and some other parts of the subcontinent are government-owned and government-controlled (though, that, sadly, does not prevent an illegal trade in the wood).

While the sandalwood tree, known in Hindi as chandan, is not directly referred to in this song, its most prized element—that wonderfully aromatic wood—is an important part of this tender, soothing lullaby. A princess who suffers from chronic insomnia is lulled to sleep by a singer who sings of all that induces comfort and a deep, dreamless sleep: a cradle made of sandalwood, tugged by a silken string. Luxury, indeed. And soothing. There isn’t a single reference, naturally, in the picturization, that suggests the tree, and Nutan’s gorgeous princess, being adult, sleeps on a bed rather than in a cradle, but still. For me, this is the ultimate tribute to sandalwood.

10. Lime. More angna mein laaga (Aurat, 1940): The Citrus genus contains so many different species of fruit that it’s often hard—at least for the layperson—to identify one. In India, especially, what with limes and lemons ranging all the way from tiny green-skinned ones to large yellow ones (not the pomelos, which are too outsize to be mistaken for anything else!), from smooth-skinned ones to gnarly ones… it’s safest to club all of the really sour ones as nimboo, neeboo, lembu, call it what you will.

Or, as here, nimbuwa. Although the first tree that is mentioned in More angna mein laaga is a mango (ambuwa), right after that is mentioned the nimbuwa. A bunch of villagers, harvesting their crops together in the fields, sing a song about planting trees: a mango tree and a lime tree. Is it merely a song, or a reflection of the fertility of the earth? Or even of the woman Radha, the very fecund central character? I can’t be sure, but I do think that reference to the planting of mango and lime trees is innuendo.

Before I end this post, one last observation: this combination of ambuwa and nimbuwa appears in at least two other songs that I know of. From Veer Chhatrasal (1970), Mere ambuwa pe aao mere nimbuwa pe aao, and from Lakeerein (1954), the lovely Nimbuwa pe papeeha bole. I wonder why? Is there supposed to be a connect between the mango and the lime tree, just as there is between the peepal and the banyan? Or is it just because ambuwa and nimbuwa rhyme so well?

What other songs would you add to this list? And if you can add songs about other species of trees, that would be even better!

Note: All tree photos except babool are copyright Madhulika Liddle. The photo of the babool is from Wikimedia Commons, photographed by Dinesh Valke. 

109 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite tree songs

  1. Fun idea! And with learning thrown in.
    I would think that ambuwa / nimubwa are just to tempting to the poet for easy rhyming :)
    My contributions are non-filmi too, but just to share some favourites
    So here´s an old Punjabi song about the kikkar. Kikkar also seem to be planted by wells in Punjab to provide much needed shade. I also love this one because it uses the proper Punjabi word for squirrel “kaato” rather than the current “gulerhi” .
    She tells hin not to go to the Kikkar because a kaato lives there. He replies he is not scared of one! (Makes you wonder what monster squirrels were they thinking about!)

    Keekar te kaato rehndi:

    I ike this sweet khajoor song from Laila – for some reason khajoor + moon seem to a poetic trope Chand takke chhup chhup se oonchi khajoor se:

    I like the old fashioned strong singing in this one. And the khajoor seems to be appropriately growing in the “ret” Thandi thandi ret mein khajoor ke tale:

    Mehndi Hasan is marvellous and soothing in this light classical “ambwa tale”

  2. Song 9 chandan ka palna hemant da is my best male singer always especially pathos for second thought it was Baiju Bawra I think in black and white cinema Nutan faces to die for literally you will kill yourself to get one kiss from her

  3. Wonderful!
    A highly innovative idea too.
    It’s interesting to know that there is such a variety of songs of so many different trees in hindi films.
    Keep it up !
    A similar thing can be thought of about flowers or even fruits !

    • Thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Your encouragement is very heartening.

      You’re right, a similar post could be done for flowers or fruits. Harvey, who sadly has given up blogging, had done a superb post on flower songs, which you might want to see, here:

      https://harveypam.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/flower-power/

      When it comes to songs featuring fruit, I think some have been covered in my post on food songs. And this list also contains mango, though the reference is to the tree rather than the fruit, specifically.

  4. Trust you to not only think of an unusual theme, but find ten songs to go with it! :) Some lovely songs too, though Meri beri ki ber mat todo is not one of my favourites.

    Just a question – the champak (or champakam in Malayalam), isn’t it Ylang-Ylang? Magnolia blossoms are very different from the champak. It’s closer to the champakali/frangipani flowers in looks, but very slightly so.

    I know the champak belongs to the same family as the Magnolia, but they aren’t the same, no?

    • I am also not fond of Meri beri ke ber mat todo; I actually like Kaanta laga better. Anokhi Raat had some pretty good songs, but this one is not among them.

      To answer your question, champak is a name given to several species. The magnolia isn’t the same thing as ylang-ylang, though both are known as champak. To understand, you might want to search for ‘champak’ on the Flowers of India website:

      http://www.flowersofindia.net/

      I find this a very useful site to help identify flowers and trees, though – because of the sheer abundance of flora in India – it can be a daunting task at times!

  5. Interesting and a difficult post…did not realise that so many tree names do figure in Hindi Songs.
    But then here is an all time favourite, from Mohinudeen Makhdoom, no less (and I think mentioned in your post on poets featuring in Hindi songs)
    Ik Chameli ke Mandwe tale from Cha Cha Cha , rare movie with lovely songs and Helen in a leading role.

    • I did have Chameli ke mandve on my list, until I realized that chameli is classified as a shrub rather than a tree. :-) But I’m happy to have it figure in the comments, since I like some tangents here. This is a lovely song.

  6. And then there is Imli ka Boota, from Saudagar…just for mention of the Imli, which is a lovely dense tree and many a pleasurable afternoons can be spent sitting under it collecting raw Imli..

  7. Boojh mere kya naav re has a peepul jhoomein more aangna , with thandi thandi chaon :)
    From CID , has featured in a couple of posts on your blog already . but no peepul really here too

  8. There is also Chal Chameli bagh mein from Krodhi, though here , very conveniently, it is a bagh called chameli bagh ! However, I do remember a popular children’s ditty , on which this song is based and there, I presume, Chameli Bagh meant a grove of Chameli Trees :)

    • I have a confession to make. When I first heard this song – years ago – I assumed that the name of the girl was Chameli and he was addressing her: Chal, Chameli, bagh mein. We live and learn! :-D

    • Oh, yes. Chandan sa badan absolutely fits. It’s an interesting coincidence that two songs about sandalwood have been picturized on Nutan. I did have this on my shortlist, but decided to go with Chandan ka palna instead simply because Nutan looks so beautiful in that, and also because I had watched Shabaab but not Saraswati Chandra.

  9. Dear Madhu ji, Just a suggestion, also mention names of MDs and lyricists against each song (if you know) and singer names, which you do, but in rare cases.

  10. Thank you, Madhu for a fun as well educational post! I love trees and flowers and whatnot but never know the name of anything (especially in Hindi) so this post was personally very helpful.

    Here are two “tree” songs that I like and which thanks to you I now know the trees being referenced. :-)

    Yeh kaun thak se so raha hai Gulmohar ki chaanv mein – Tu hi Meri Zindagi/Rono Mukherjee/Asha Bhonsle/Neeraj

    Champakali chhup chhup jaaye re – Mahabharat/Chitragupta/Asha Bhonsle/Bharat Vyas

    • Shalini, thank you so much for Yeh kaun thak ke so raha. The Mahabharat song I knew (it was on my shortlist too), since I’ve seen the film, but this song was new to me. And a lovely song, too.

      While we’re discussing the gulmohar, here’s another song featuring the tree. Not a terrific song, so don’t get your hopes up. ;-)

      Gulmohar ke laal-laal phulwa, from Narad Leela:

  11. OK. So now moving to other languages.. Here is Dimyo dilas ghandyo valas ,
    paertho gilas kulni talle.. a Kashmiri song, a mother getting her son dressed up for his weeding, under a Cherry tree (Gilaas is Cherry in Kashmiri, and Kul is tree..so Gilaas Kul-ni tal…under the cherry trees)

    • Oh, this is very nice. I had no idea cherries were called gilaas in Kashmiri. That accounts for the occasional ‘gilaas cherry’ I’ve seen written (in English) on boxes of cherries here in the NCR.

      What a nice song. Are there any featuring chinars? Kashmir ki kali hoon main and Bedardi baalma tujhko both have references to chinar, but they appear very deep into the song, so didn’t qualify for this post.

      • Not that I can recall offhand. Let me think a bit though. Chinas is called a ‘Booniy’ in Kashmiri ..so an older song will probably use this :) But a ‘boon’ can generally mean a tree too. I will have to do some finding out .

  12. Also Tony Orlando’s Yellow Ribbon round the old Oak tree :) Childhood memory and a staple of Western Music playlists on the radio ..

    • Oh, yes! I was wondering when someone would start listing English language songs about trees. Here are two from me.

      The higher up the berry tree, from Many Rivers To Cross:

      (I’m not sure, though, which berry they’re talking about here – most berries don’t grow on trees, do they?)

      And Lemon tree very pretty:

    • “If you don’t like my apples, don’t you shake my tree!” A number of versions of this came out; later it was more commonly sung as “If you don’t like my peaches…”

      • Ooh! Interesting, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song. Nice!

        Talking of Nat King Cole, there’s another tree song, though it’s not strictly a species being mentioned, so it wouldn’t really qualify in this post: O Tannenbaum.

    • And if we’re really open to English-language pop/rock songs about trees, I really like this one from the 1990s. (I’m going to think more about the Hindi songs later. :) )

  13. Trust you to come out with a wonderful idea for a post! My botany being pathetic I found that I have learnt quite a bit today.i will go back and read the post in leisure and if I have time I will find links to some songs in Tamil. Life is kind of hectic; so no promises though.
    But really wanted to doff my hat to such a wonderful idea!

  14. That’s a wonderful idea for post. And a great selection. Many songs in the list and comments were new to me.
    Having trees in one’s neighbourhood does lift up one’s mood no end. No modern utilities, structures, can replace the joy that fills up one’s heart watching nature. I sometimes think that we should take as many snaps of the trees around us that we can take. Who knows the trees mentioned in those songs above will only be available in an album in future. Trees are that worthless in our developmental agenda.

    • Thank you so much, Aditi! And yes, I agree so completely that trees and nature do help lift the mood. My husband, my daughter and I love to go off to parks and gardens (we must attempt one of Delhi’s forests, one of these days… if only they weren’t often unsafe) to unwind a bit every now and then.

      And, so true. Trees are of no account in our developmental agenda. :-( All that’s important is development – what the government can’t seem to understand is the larger ecological impact of this mindless development. If there are no trees and no water and the air is polluted, what will one do with development? Drink and breathe that?

  15. What a wonderful post! And I join others by saying, it’s a fun post, and informative too!
    How do you come up with so interesting themes? I could never have collected so many songs, leave aside the thought of doing it.
    I’m too late to join the post, I really can’t think of any song to add.
    Oh boy!
    Really not a song!
    How sad and shameful!
    :-(

  16. Oh!
    Remembered a Marathi song,
    हे चिंचेचे झाड from madhuchandra
    By Mahendra Kapoor
    He’s saying, this imli tree looks to him a chinar tree, and his mate looks like a kashmiri girl.

    And
    नाच रस मोरा आंब्याच्या वनात
    A little kid is requesting a peacock (मोर) to dance in group of mango trees. It’s one of the most popular songs of children in Marathi.
    It’s by Asha Bhosle

    Does this qualify,
    Lelo nariyal pani

    And,
    Was there banyan tree on your list?
    If no, here it is in a Marathi song.
    The story of satyavan and savitri, we celebrate a day, with a name वट पौर्णिमा,
    Full moon night.
    Such a coincidence, it’s on 16th of this month.

    • Thank you for these! I’m not sure about the nariyal paani song, but then if I can accept references to the wood of a tree (chandan) and to its flowers or buds (champa, ketaki), then coconuts should be acceptable too.

      Naach re mora got the LO dancing. She loved it!

      I am especially happy to see the banyan tree song you provided. I had thought bargad or badh songs would be more common in Hindi cinema, given the religious significance of the tree, but couldn’t find any…

      And a special thank you to for the first song. I had asked AK (who is Kashmiri) if she knew of any Kashmiri songs featuring the chinar, but I certainly didn’t expect that the tree would crop up in a Marathi song!

      • You’re welcome!
        I’m glad the LO liked and enjoyed नाच रे मोरा
        And
        Yes, the banyan and chinar were difficult to find, but in Marathi songs, I could find.
        I once again want to say, the post was indeed fabulous and interesting.
        Thank you for the post.
        :-)

  17. And,
    A few more,
    So happy I’m to contribute songs. It’s a wonderful thing to comment on your blog. I love it, I mean to comment!
    Jamun
    जांभूळ पिकल्या झाडाखाली by Asha Bhosle. Again a popular song, composed by Hridaynath mangeshkar.

      • Oh
        Thank God!
        It was the main comment actually. And I remember one more Marathi song by manna Dey and Pramila datar.
        House with the bamboo door from घरकुल, music by c ramchandra

        Inspired ,rather actually copied song.

        • I came across this one while researching for my post. But you know I liked Marathi version better. It had more variation, and the picturization was a bonus.

        • Oh, wow! No 54 has been a favourite of mine since I was a kid. I had no idea that there was a Marathi version of it.

          It does not, however, actually qualify. ;-) Because bamboo isn’t technically a tree – it’s a grass.

  18. Great theme, as usual. I could remember mostly songs about flowers and was not sure if Chameli ke mandve etc would count being flower bushes. Same for “kali anaar ki na itna satao”?!

    • Ooh, I wish I’d remembered this song! It’s a lovely song, and the pomegranate is definitely a tree. A small tree, but a tree definitely. The chameli is a shrub, not a tree, really.

  19. There is this sweet children’s ditty from Bengal which mentions a Kadam Tree

    Chand utheche, phul phuteche,
    Kodom tolai ke?
    Hati nachche, ghorha nachche
    Sonamonir bey.

    The Moon has risen, and the flowers bloom,
    Who is that sitting under the kadam tree?
    Elephants dance and horses prance
    It’s my darling daughter’s wedding day.

  20. Gurudev Tagore had, not surprisingly, a lot of poems on trees. Here are two in English:

    THE BANYAN TREE
    O you shaggy-headed banyan tree standing on the bank of the pond,
    have you forgotten the little child, like the birds that have nested
    in your branches and left you?
    Do you not remember how he sat at the window and wondered
    at the tangle of your roots and plunged underground?
    The women would come to fill their jars in the pond,
    and your huge black shadow would wriggle on the water
    like sleep struggling to wake up.
    Sunlight danced on the ripples like restless tiny shuttles
    weaving golden tapestry.
    Two ducks swam by the weedy margin above their shadows,
    and the child would sit still and think.
    He longed to be the wind and blow through your resting branches,
    to be your shadow and lengthen with the day on the water,
    to be a bird and perch on your topmost twig, and to float like
    those ducks among the weeds and shadows.

    PALM TREE
    Palm-tree: single-legged giant,
    topping other trees,
    peering at the firmament –
    It longs to pierce the black cloud-ceiling
    and fly away, away,
    if only it had wings.

    The tree seems to express its wish
    in the tossing of its head:
    its fronds heave and swish –
    It thinks, Maybe my leaves are feathers,
    and nothing stops me now
    from rising on their flutter.

    All day the fronds the windblown tree
    soar and flap and shudder
    as though it thinks it can fly,
    As though it wanders in the skies,
    travelling who knows where,
    wheeling past the stars –

    And then as soon as the wind dies down,
    the fronds subside, subside:
    the mind of the tree returns.
    To earth, recalls that earth is its mother:
    and then it likes once more
    its earthly corner.

  21. Actually an all time favourite is O Re Grrihobashi by Tagore again. Ashok and Palash both find mention here, but not in the first few line. But this song is so reminiscent of trees, bowers, woods, outdoors, that I can’t but help mention it.

    Ore grihobasi khol, dwar khol, laglo je dol.
    Sthale jale banotale laglo je dol.
    Dwar khol, dwar khol.
    Ranga haasi rasi rasi asoke palase,
    Ranga nesa meghe mesa prabhato aakase,
    Nobino pataya laage ranga hillol.
    Dwar khol, dwar khol.
    Benubano marmare dokhino batase,
    Prajapati dole ghase ghase.
    Moumachi phire jaachi phuler dokhina,
    Pakhaya bajaya taar bhikharir bina,
    Madhobibitane baayu gandhe bibholo.
    Dwar khol, dwar khol.

  22. Madhu ji,
    My comment posted on the very day of the post’s appearance seems to have disappeared!
    I had listed a dozen Ambua songs, most of them from the Vintage and Golden eras. Will try to post again.
    The very first song I remember when it comes to trees is the MADHUMATI,1958 beauty
    ..O bichua…
    Peepal chaiyya baithi pal bhar
    Bhar ke gagariya…

    And , one song, that doesn’t fit because the trees aren’t mentioned in the first lined, but I can’t resist mentioning:
    Ye kaun chitrakar hai…
    … Dhwaja se ye khade huye hain vriksha Devadar ke..
    BOOND JO BAN GAYE MOTI,1967

    • Oh, I hadn’t realized that you’d posted a comment. Maybe, if it had several links in it, it went straight into spam and then got deleted – WordPress often moves comments with lots of links into spam.

      I had completely forgotten how O bichhua… actually begins with peepal. Lovely song, thank you for that.

      I had remembered the deodars mentioned in that song, but yes, they are too far into Yeh kaun chitrakaar hai, but I’m happy to see you at least mention the song. Especially since that imagery – dhwajaa se yeh khade hue – is so good!

  23. And then I remembered this from childhood again.. The Tree song by Rudyard Kipling

    OF all the trees that grow so fair,
    Old England to adorn,
    Greater are none beneath the Sun,
    Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.
    Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs,
    (All of a Midsummer morn!)
    Surely we sing no little thing,
    In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!
    Oak of the Clay lived many a day,
    Or ever AEneas began.
    Ash of the Loam was a lady at home,
    When Brut was an outlaw man.
    Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town
    (From which was London born);
    Witness hereby the ancientry
    Of Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

    Yew that is old in churchyard-mould,
    He breedeth a mighty bow.
    Alder for shoes do wise men choose,
    And beech for cups also.
    But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,
    And your shoes are clean outworn,
    Back ye must speed for all that ye need,
    To Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

    Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth
    Till every gust be laid,
    To drop a limb on the head of him
    That anyway trusts her shade:
    But whether a lad be sober or sad,
    Or mellow with ale from the horn,
    He will take no wrong when he lieth along
    ‘Neath Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

    Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
    Or he would call it a sin;
    But – we have been out in the woods all night,
    A-conjuring Summer in!
    And we bring you news by word of mouth-
    Good news for cattle and corn-
    Now is the Sun come up from the South,
    With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

    Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs
    (All of a Midsummer morn):
    England shall bide ti11 Judgment Tide,
    By Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

    And I found a good rendering on You Tube

  24. Those songs posted by Anupji set me thinking too. I came up with this one: “Nimboni chya Zada mage”. It’s a lori.
    “It’s so late that the moon has risen and gone beyond the Neem tree and the mother wonders why her child cannot sleep.”

  25. And, since nobody has mentioned this song till now, Kachhi kali kachnar ki, from Hungama:

    In 1993, the film Waqt Hamaara Hai featured a song with the same starting lyrics, but otherwise pretty awful:

    • Oh! yes the Kachnar song. The older one. Did not come to mind.
      By the way I also remembered there is a poem on Amaltas (Cassia Fistula) by Rameshwar Kamboj. It’s available on kavitakosh.org.
      And speaking of trees in neighbourhood, our Purple Sunbird came this year too. That’s third in a row. As winters set early he came 15 days before time (on 15th December) and went 15 days before (around 15th May). Such impeccable schedule.

      • Birds and animals seem to have an uncanny sense of timing, but your purple sunbird takes the cake! Amazing. :-)

        Thank you for pointing me to the Rameshwar Kamboj poem – I will look for it.

  26. I guess you wouldn’t normally consider an eggplant a tree, right? But I have seen references to eggplant trees. From what I gather, there is a way that some people grow eggplants by grafting them onto another plant to make a sort of tree. I am asking because I was thinking about this song from Pukar (1939). Actually, going by the subtitles, there is a line in the song saying that “a tree is loaded down with fruit.” So maybe this can count. :)

    • Good Lord! I had never heard of people grafting eggplants onto trees. Wow. What beats me is why.

      The song is nice. I need to watch Pukar one of these days; it’s been on my watchlist for long enough!

  27. I haven’t seen the Banyan being mentioned anywhere, so here’s one from JalpariBargad ke pedo pe shaakhe.

    Another song about the Neem. Nikla neem ke tale se nikla from Hu Tu Tu. It also talks about the Peepal.

    A Malayalam song about a grove of Ashoka trees: Ashoka vanathile Seethamma from Kallichellamma

    And another Malayalam song about the Champak – from Abhijaatyam

    One about the Vaaka tree – or the Gulmohar from Anubhavam

    And one last one – :) The ‘ilanji’ or Bullet Wood (Spanish Cherry). I think it’s called Bakal in Hindi. From a film called Ayalkkari (Neighbour)

    • Bakul right. Also called Maulsari. Anuji’s comment reminded me of this Marathi song: “Manas kanya Kanva muninchi”.
      Kanva rushi’s daughter, that’s Shakuntala, is making garland’s of Bakul flowers- which must be a time taking task as the flowers are really tiny.

      • Ah. I hadn’t known maulsari was also called bakul (or had forgotten, really). Yes, really tiny flowers – but so pretty! Thank you for this song, I really liked it.

    • Thank you for these, Anu! I wasn’t even familiar with the Hindi ones, let alone (of course) the Malayalam songs. Glad to see so many trees starring in songs. :-)

  28. Sorry. I seem to have messed up the links. Would you mind fixing them? This is the Bargad ke pedon ke shaakhe song.

    And this is the link for Ashoka vanathile Seethamma.

  29. And since this isn’t a film song, but is worth listing (I think) since it’s about a tree that hasn’t figured yet in any song listed, a popular Australian children’s song. Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree:

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