Moulmein Rosewood is a small deciduous tree, planted mostly for ornamental purposes. It is really beautiful when in full bloom. It blooms with racemes of mauve pea-like flowers. Leaves are pinnate and leaflets oval in shape. The tree may be confused with the Pongam Tree as the flowers appear the same. However, Pongam flowers are more whitish compared to Moulminein Rosewood flowers. Looking just at the buds, one might confuse it with Mexican Lilac, however, Moulminein Rosewood has more drooping clusters like Amaltas. This species is native to Lower Burma and Siam but it is cultivated in Burma, India and Pakistan.
The Moulmein rosewood also known as Millettia peguensis is the larval host plant of the Dark Cerulean (Jamides bochus) butterfly. The eggs hatch and the caterpillars come out and feed on the flowers. The caterpillars of the Lycaenidae family secretes substances that attracts ants. The ants tend these caterpillars for nectar and protect them from the predators such as parastoid wasps. Some Lycaenidae butterflies cannot complete their life cycle without ants. It is important to note that this tree supports a whole ecosystem by itself – bees, flies, butterflies, ants, spiders, birds etc . Suppose the ant is taken out of this ecosystem, the butterfly cannot survive as it is dependent on the ant. As a result the predators which feed on the butterfly like the birds are deprived of food and have to look for other resources.
Scientific Name: Milletia ovalifolia
Description: Moulmein Rosewood is a small tree with beautiful lilac-colored flowers, appearing in leafless condition and entirely covering the tree. Its mauve and lilac flowers are a glorious sight in April.
Propagation: Grown from seeds.
Uses: Moulmein Rosewood is commonly used as indoor plant and for open places.