Pradip Krishen | For The Love Of Trees And Forests

I attended a talk show featuring Pradip Krishen, the author of The Trees of Delhi. The event took place at ITC Rajputana, the usual venue for the write circle events. The Write Circle in Jaipur organizes talk shows featuring famous writers, authors, and notable personalities in Jaipur. The show was moderated by Arijit Banerjee, a forester in Indian Forest Service. I have read & enjoyed one of the books written by Pradip Krishen – Trees of Delhi, a field guide. 

Who Is Pradip Krishen?

Pradip Krishen is a tree lover, author, environmentalist, and filmmaker. He made a few documentaries and films during the initial years of his career. The most famous film he directed was Massey Sahab. He authored two very famous books – Trees of Delhi and Jungle Trees of Central India. The former earned great reviews and was an instant hit. Pradip Krishen is the husband of the famous writer, environmentalist and political activist – Arundhati Roy.

Two most popular books on trees by Pradip Krishen

Trees of Delhi book is an excellent resource for the tree and nature lovers in Delhi. I’m impressed with his work considering he is not a botanist. So when the opportunity presented itself to attend this event, I decided not to miss.




It is interesting to note that Pradip Krishen made a switch in his career during his mid-life. From a documentary maker to an ardent tree lover is quite a journey. He spoke at length about his years in Delhi and Panchmarhi in MP, during which he started noticing and paying attention to trees. During few years he spent in forests in Madhya Pradesh, he would often walk with his friend which he termed as “Latin walk”. They would try to identify a tree and his friend would come up with their name in Latin. He simply fell in love with trees. He is not a botanist but his knowledge about trees is no less than one! Pradip Krishen has led many tree walks in Delhi.


Pradip Krishen spoke about his experiences during the development of Rao Jodha Desert Park in Jodhpur in 2006. He was a catalyst in developing this project on the invitation of the royal family of Jodhpur. The entire rocky area of this desert national park was dominated by “Bavaliya” trees, a nickname coined by Jodhpur locals for Prosopis Juliflora also called Kikar.

weekly photo challenge jaipur

This invasive was tree introduced in India by Britishers from South America during the 1920-30s. The tree is known as a tough fighter and blooms in the harshest conditions. How this tree was planted in Jodhpur during the 1930’s in interesting too!  The Maharajah of Jodhpur while flying aircraft over this region dispersed seeds of Prosopis Juliflora in the air. Little did he know that this tree will kill all local trees in the vicinity. How Pradip Krishen removed these trees is a story in itself. In its place, the team planted many local trees, a painfully slow process. He showed pictures of Rao Jodha National Park before and after the removal of Prosopis Juliflora. It’s a great job indeed.

Pradip Krishen supports the planting of local tree species. Even in his books, he strongly advocates for choosing local trees over imported fancy or exotic looking trees. He has reasons for it, too. Locals trees are well suited & adapted for the region & environment. The entire ecosystem supports such trees. Imported fancy trees are known to have caused extensive damage in many regions, Eucalyptus tree imported from Australia is one such example. Local trees need very little care except for the initial few months. Among all the trees, he specifically writes about Dhau or Anogeissus Pendula tree which is a local tree and can be easily found in the Ridge area of Delhi. Even though I don’t live in Delhi but many of the trees listed in his books can be found in Jaipur. Not just the decorative trees but also indigenous trees and shrubs like Peepul and Khejri Trees.

Read related post: World Forestry Arboretum Jaipur

A question was thrown by one of the listeners – why the forest department chooses to plant more of decorative trees like Gulmohar and not Neem which is more suitable to this region. To this, Arijit Bannerjee replied that the department usually chooses an easier way out!


Pradip Krishen is working on Swarnjayanti park in Kishanbagh, Jaipur which involves redeveloping the entire landscape.  He chose this project because it was challenging. Local administration could not do much despite putting in a lot of effort because it is a tough area to work with. Pradip Krishen enjoys working on challenging projects.  Kishan Bagh is definitely a tough area as I have passed through it while trekking in Jaipur.


Even though I enjoyed reading his book Trees of Delhi but attending this conversation was even more interesting. I absolutely had no idea how interesting this talk session of  Pradip Krishen turned out to be. I was unaware of his efforts and involvement in Rao Jodha Desert Park, Jodhpur and Kishan bagh in Jaipur.  I’m sure Pradip Krishen will come up with something interesting in Kishan Bagh. If you are a tree lover and haven’t read any of his books, you are missing out. Pradip Krishen is the best author and resource on trees in India. I highly recommend nature lovers’ books written by Pradip Krishen – Trees of Delhi and Jungle Trees of Central India.


Review of Trees of Delhi Book

Trees of Delhi is one of its kind of book. Even though attempts have been made to list the trees found in Delhi earlier too but they haven’t been so successful and well-attempted. The book is published by DK and Penguin books. The information is well presented as the book starts with describing a tree, its parts with names, Delhi’s natural ecology, a little bit of its history in context of trees etc. The author describes how the British changed the whole concept of planting trees with the aim of beautifying the landscape. This kind of information is unique and has been attempted for the first time.

One of the chapters provides a guide on how to use this book for identifying trees. The book approaches the subject by listing the leaves in 10 broad categories. The information is extensive yet crisp. It lists the scinetific name along with local names, unique characterstics of the trees with respect to size, shape, leaves, bark, flowers, etc along with pictures and illustrations. It has been printed to act as a field guide. And it is truly so considering that the size has been kept in such a way that one can carry it along. This is how the page from the book looks like.



One of the most interesting part I enjoyed is the section called “Back of the book” which has a variety of information that is hard to come by. For example, one of the topic talks flowers of the Peepul Tree. It discusses in detail where one can find flowers in Peepul trees. Similarly, one of the topic it discusses is the medicinal uses of the Bael tree.

I highly recommend buying this book if you intend to find more about trees around you or explore your nearby garden or forests. It is totally worth your money.

Read related post: World Forestry Arboretum Jaipur

Check out other stories in the Trees of Jaipur.

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57 thoughts on “Pradip Krishen | For The Love Of Trees And Forests

  1. Thanks for Sharing this..It Feels good when you come to know we have such writers in India who are doing so much for our environment. Will grab one his books soon!
    He is an inspiration for everyone to do more for our Mother Nature.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. True. If you love nature or trees, I highly recommend his books. If you live in Delhi, I’m sure it will open up a new way of seeing things for you. There’s an interesting history section too. I loved it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We are so engrossed in our daily lives that we overlook certain aspects. This is certainly one of these…

      Increasingly, we are liking decorative trees and plants. So trees like Neem, Ashoka are giving way to Gulmohar and other decorative trees. We need to understand that native trees have very good adaptability to local ecology. Let’s hope that we realize this soon. Thanks for sharing the concern, Kasturika!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A very interesting post, Arv. Most certainly true that it is better to plant native species. Even in the UK we have real trouble with a number of imported species of plants that colonise areas and then crowd out the native species. Then they prove almost impossible to get rid of.

    And I had no idea that the British introduced that species to India.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mick, I guess this is one of the lesser known ill effects of globalization! In India, not just British even the Forest Department imported many species and studied them before planting them on a massive scale. But you can never understand the full & long term effects of any species in short period. The government planted Eucalyptus trees on a massive scale which is native to Australia. Over the years, people realized that area around this tree became unfit for cultivation.

      It is not just trees but many fruits and vegetables were also introduced in India by other colonial powers. Like potato, pepper and tomato were introduced to India by Portugese.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s very true, Arv. Species rarely just ‘appear’ in a new location under natural conditions, so when they are introduced they are liable to have huge effects on the ecosystem already in place. Again speaking of the UK, both Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam are a dreadful menace, proving impossible to eradicate and spreading like wildfire.

        Although on a brighter note, Indian cuisine would certainly be much the poorer without those key ingredients!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Absolutely, Mick! Any intruder is bound to have some effect on local ecology. I haven’t seen or read about Japanese Knotweed before but Himalayan Balsam looks familiar.

        If I’m not wrong, I have seen this in huge numbers in Valley of Flowers, in Uttarakhand. I’m sure you would have heard about this UNESCO world heritage site. If you want to check out my write up on this place you can find it here:

        An average Indian will never accept that both these vegetables are imported species. They have been around for almost 300-400 years and form important part of Indian food system…as you pointed out!

        Did you read one my post on how the forest department is working to import new species here in Jaipur? I wrote a post last year on World Forestry Arboretum.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yes, I’m sure Himalayan Balsam is very common in the valley of flowers – I’ve seen plenty of pictures and have always thought that must be what they are.

        I’ll check your two write-ups shortly. I think I’ve read them, but I’ll have to check.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. The problem with invasive plants and animals is a universal one in our interconnected world. Here in Canada we have problems with knapweed taking over valuable grasslands and from fish farms Atlantic salmon escaping, which do not belong to the Pacific, just to give two examples. Thank for a very informative post, arv!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I guess you are right. We all are experiencing same issues in a different way. Tampering with nature is not always a good idea! Let’s hope mankind realises it sooner! Thanks for your input. Have a great week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting piece. I find people who make a switch in their careers to follow their passion very admirable and inspiring. I had no idea something like invasive trees even existed – that a non-local tree can take over local vegetation is surprising.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, even I was unaware about this particular tree species. I have heard so much about Eucalyptus trees though! Tampering with nature is never a good idea!
      What do you think?


  5. An interesting read. We have similar problems here in the UK with non native Flora and Fauna. Here in the UK, our Victorian ancestors have a lot to answer for. They not only imported foreign species and planted them, but they also meddled far too much in other countries. Look at plants here, Mick has already mentioned Japanese Knotweed, it’s so invasive it can even push through concrete or tarmac, it’s been declared a public enemy. It’s not easy to get rid of either. Similar the grey squirrel was introduced to the UK and almost eradicated the native red squirrel. Today there are conservation areas to protect the red squirrels.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Mike. Thanks for sharing from your part of the world. No one checked long term effects of introducing new species. I’m sure these species which were introduced must have undergone some changes based on survival requirements and must have developed as a new version (in comparison to the original ones back home). It is very difficult to gauge how these species will behave over a period of 30,40 or hundred years in a small pilot project which might last at the most….2 years!
      I feel meddling with mother nature has mostly produced disastrous results. And humans will never learn from this…an ego satisfaction or striving to prove themselves superior? It is turning out bad!


  6. It was a very interesting read. One for because it is always a very enlightening to meet an author in person. Also somebody who has made a career shift to follow their passion is worth praising and knowing better.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, not yet, we just bought it.. my husband and I are amateur birders, actually, more my husband, I’m on a break because of the kid.. but now he’s trying to study the relationship between the bird, the type of tree it preferably perches on, the insect life around it..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow. This sounds interesting. I’m not really into birding but I do like to know more about them since they are important part of nature. I wrote few posts on birds when I started blogging but left it there… you guys live in Delhi?


      3. Will check it out on your blog. Same blog it must be?

        I have read that Pradip Krishen used to organise tree walks. Check out if it’s still being offered, I’m sure you guys will find it interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pradip Krishnan sounds like an inspiring figure. Never too late to switch career paths and do what we want to do. I too wonder how he removed the Prosopis Juliflora. He must have a great team who loves trees as well to help him do it. It is not easy to plant trees, as a lot of the time you need the right soil and water so that they will grow. But it sounds like Pradip knew what he was doing. Or maybe he is someone who simply has green fingers. Lovely that you got to meet him. He looks like he has no airs in that photo 🙂

    I love trees, and love how shady they can be in the hot Australian summer. There is something very majestic about a big tree. So tall and powerful yet always ready to watch over you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mabel, removing those invasive trees is a story in itself. He had to involve local sandstone miners as the roots had to be removed or destroyed till one and a half feet. Blasting and machining all proved futile for the hard rhyolite surface.

      Happy to know you love trees. If humans have to survive on this planet, trees need to exist. I’m happy that I had an opportunity to hear him. the conversation was very interesting.

      It seems you have been busy, Mabel? Haven’t seen you around for quite some time!


      1. Trees are much more harder and stronger than we think. It is just nature that way. Good to now India has the manpower to give new life to plants where need be.

        One of my favourite kind of tree is coconut tree. Trees are not just for shade, but also give us the foods that we need 😊

        Yes, been very busy Arv. Looking to get even busier too 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well said, Mabel! Humans have continued to survive on this planet because of trees. They provide more than food!
        Coconut tree? It is very interesting tree, Mabel. But out here we don’t have one since there is beach or sea around.

        I know we all get such periods when we are busy! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. That is really interesting on so many levels. I love trees and agree totally that native species are best.
    I apologise on behalf of we Brits for introducing the invasive outsiders!
    The books sound fascinating.
    I really enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You don’t have to be sorry, it’s a part of history. I’m sure even the one who introduced must have no idea about this. There’s another interesting part in the book about Britishers. In New Delhi’s new quarters they planned what trees have to be planted based on its height and look. So every lane had a specific tree species. That was around the start of 1900’s. This area is called Lutyen’s Delhi. Happy to hear that you love trees. 😆

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So glad to have stumbled upon your post Arvind. I had attended a Naturalist course from my work place last year and that is where the books Trees of Central Indian and Delhi were recommended.

    Been toying with the idea of buying The Trees of Delhi, but my TBR is mounting! :)) But having said that this is a must have book.

    Thanks for this wonderfully articulated article and I learned something new – the introduction of Kekar the invasive tree. Very sad indeed, as our Gurgaon landscape on the Aravallis is also overtaken by the same tree.
    Yet nature continues to find ways to bloom.
    So many trees to look forward to.

    This is a great post for #ThursdayTreeLove, to educate all of us tree lovers about this wonderful book by Mr Krishen.


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Natasha. I’m not surprised why you loved this post.
      Well, there are so many insights after reading this book. It does help you to spot the trees around you. Isn’t it surprising we take trees around us for granted? For us, it is just a tree?
      I will suggest you to buy this book and visit some of the places listed in the book. The Ridge is highly recommended. The reason for buying this book? I was curious to know more about trees around us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did Arvind but it also doesn’t show on my blog. Do I need to install some plugin for that. Let me know which one?
        I’ve been meaning to get one too.
        Thanks in advance.

        Liked by 1 person

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