This is the first stanza of Sarojini Naidu's wonderfully evocative poem Indian Love Song:

Like a serpent to the calling voice of flutes,
Glides my heart into thy fingers, O my Love!
Where the night-wind, like a lover, leans above
His jasmine-gardens and sirisha-bowers;
And on ripe boughs of many-coloured fruits
Bright parrots cluster like vermilion flowers.

What exactly are these sirisha-bowers? They seem to be some kind of botanical entity, and sirisha is probably the name of some type of plant, but which? (I speak Hindi and don't recognize this word, and Google doesn't seem to either.)

1 Answer 1


This is शिरीष (śirīṣa), known in English under various names: Wikipedia gives “siris, Indian siris, East Indian walnut, Broome raintree, lebbeck, lebbek tree, frywood, koko and woman’s tongue”. Here’s an entry in a Sanskrit–English dictionary, roughly contemporary with Naidu, showing the “sirisha” spelling used in the poem:

The Sirisha tree.—शिरीष n.

M. S. Gole (1915). Amarasara, or an Abridgment of Amarakosha, being a Sanskrit–English Pocket Dictionary, p. 82. Poona: Chitrashala Press.

The botanical name is Albizia lebbeck, but synonyms include Mimosa sirissa, due to William Roxburgh:

M[imosa] Sirissa. R.

Arboreous. Leaves bipinnate, pinnae from two to three pair. Spikes axillary, round; corollets monadelphous. Segments leafy, dry, long-linear and broad, not opening spontaneously.

Sirisha, or Shirish in Sanscrit and Bengalee. […]

This tree is very common in every part of India; all soils and situations seem to please it equally. It grows to be a pretty large tree, but with a short thick trunk covered with ash-coloured bark. It has a very extensive but thin head. Flowering time the hot and rainy season; the greatest part of its leaves drop during the cold season. […]

The wood of this tree, is much like that of M. Xylocarpa, and equally serviceable. The flowers are very fragrant. I have often seen large masses of very pure gum upon it.

William Roxburgh (1832). Flora Indica; or, Descriptions of Indian Plants, volume 2, pp. 544–545. Serampore: W. Thacker.

Albizia lebbeck, Jayaprakash Nagar, Bangalore. Photo by Forestowlet. Public domain.

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