Kerala

This Kerala schoolteacher writes prescriptions for diseased trees

The mango tree that throws a shade over St. Joseph’s UP School, Malayinchippara, here, was looking lush till a couple of weeks ago. But the rain-sodden wood, riven with dark stripes, soon developed signs of a mysterious disease. The children at the school here were shocked at first, then they called up K. Binu, ‘the tree doctor’.

He visited them the very next day, examined ‘the patient’ and promised them to bring it back to life.

Diagnosed with a rare wilting disease, the patient is slated to undergo therapy. A team led by Binu will clean the decayed part, apply medicine and offer a prescribed diet to the wood over the next few days. The children remain hopeful that the tree will start bearing mangoes once again in the coming summer.

K. Binu, a 51-year-old conservationist who is a schoolteacher by profession, certainly knows a thing or two about what is going on underground and beneath the bark of a tree. A practitioner of Vriksha Ayurveda, a rare branch of knowledge that finds mention in ancient books, he has been on a mission to save trees ravaged by different diseases.

“Just as you cannot kill a man because he suffers from an illness, you are not supposed to cut down a tree for the same reason. Trees too have a character, scream with pain, feel loneliness and crave for affection,” said Mr. Binu, also a member of the State Forest and Wildlife Board. Inspired by environmentalist S. Seetharaman, Binu took to treating trees about six years ago.

First patient

A half-burnt rain-tree at Aluva was his ‘first patient.’ Keen to follow his passion, he was introduced to several books on Vriksha Ayurveda, including that by Charaka and Susrutha, and learned about the various types of tree diseases and their remedies. He has treated about 23 trees, including those aged over a century — all free of cost.

According to Binu, Vriksha Ayurveda was practised widely in places till about six decades ago. It stipulates applying a mixture of mud from termite hill, clay from paddy fields, cow dung, milk, ghee, honey, banana and so on on the affected portion based on the type of disease and feeding the tree with buffalo milk. “The combination of this medicine, which is applied to the affected portion and then sealed with a cotton cloth, varies based on the type of trees as well as the disease. The bandaged portion needs to be kept soaked using buffalo milk for the next few days and it will take up to six months for the wounds to heal completely,” Binu added.

Mr. Binu said trees, especially on the wayside, were subjected to many abuses. “Besides diseases and pollution-related stress, they are also subjected to silent and slow death through poisoning. There is an urgent need for the public to rise against this menace.”

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 3:43:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/the-saviour-of-diseased-trees/article30070462.ece

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