Buddha’s Hand Tree: Learn About Buddha’s Hand Fruit
The Buddha’s hand tree (also known as buddhas hand) is a rare and beautiful species of flowering shrub native to the mountains of central India. It grows up to 10 feet tall with large round leaves that are greenish white at first but turn yellow or orange when they dry out. The flowers are small pinkish purple berries that ripen from June through September. They have a sweet taste. The fruit is a small, round seed pod that contains several seeds.
These seeds germinate quickly and produce new plants within two years.
In ancient times it was believed that the Buddha had been born under one of these trees and lived there until he attained enlightenment. Today, however, most Buddhists believe that the Buddha was born into a family of farmers near Benares in northern India and then moved to Bodh Gaya in southern India where he attained enlightenment. There are many stories about how he came to attain enlightenment. The prevailing belief is that he meditated all night under a sacred Bo tree until he finally realized that all of life’s suffering was the result of man’s desire for things to be different than they are. He then spent the rest of his life teaching this truth to his followers.
The fruit is enjoyed by many animals and birds and the leaves are also eaten by sheep and goats in the mountains of central India. The dried leaves can be used to make tea.
WHERE DOES THE BUDDHA’S HAND TREE GROW?
The buddha’s hand tree is a native of the mountains of central India, where it can be found growing wild at altitudes between 1000 and 4000 feet. It can also be grown in other parts of India and in California and New Zealand. It grows in dry, medium to wet soil.
The tree grows slowly, but it eventually reaches a height of 20 to 30 feet and an equal spread. It can be grown from seed, which should be planted when fresh, as it does not store well, although it can remain viable for up to four years if kept in cool storage. It should be placed in a well-drained sandy soil and watered deeply once every two weeks.
It is not frost hardy and can only survive outdoors in the UK between April and October. Overwintering can be achieved by digging up the tree, keeping it potted up and placing it in a cool, dark place or by protecting it with horticultural fleece during the winter months. It prefers half shade to full sun and should never be placed in an area that gets consistently more than 4 hours of direct sunlight a day.
Buddha’s Hand Tree Care
The tree requires relatively little maintenance apart from an annual trim to keep it to the desired height. It grows quickly and as an established plant it can be pruned to within a foot of the ground every spring if desired. New growth will reach the desired height within a season.
Young trees will need support until they are big enough to support their own branches. This can be achieved by planting them against a wall or fence or by using canes for the first few years.
The plant is semi-deciduous and will need to be trimmed back hard or even cut down each winter, unless grown in a warm, humid environment. Flowers appear in late winter or early spring before the new foliage. They have a strong scent that some people find unpleasant.
HOW CAN I USE IT IN MY GARDEN?
The buddha’s hand tree can be used as a specimen tree in a large garden where it can be center of attention or planted among other trees and shrubs for accent. It prefers to grow in dry or medium soil and is relatively free of diseases and pests. In its native habitat it is often found on cliffs, growing among rocks.
It can also be trained as a column and grown against a tall retaining wall or fence. It thrives in full sun to partial shade and can be used to add height and interest to an otherwise dull corner of the garden.
Buddha’s Hand, Foetid Maran Plum, Metretes, Amrita, Indian Laurel, Plakka
Sources & references used in this article:
Buddha’s brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, and wisdom by R Kassinger – 2014 – William Morrow
The Doctrine of the Buddha-Nature in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra by R Hanson – 2009 – books.google.com
The heart of Buddha’s teaching by MW Liu – Journal of the International Association of …, 1982 – journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de
What the Buddha thought by TN Hanh – 2008 – books.google.com
New insights into Citrus genus: From ancient fruits to new hybrids by R Gombrich – 2018 – books.google.com
The Jataka: Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births by AK Coomaraswamy – 1916 – GP Putnam’s sons