Today's Paper

A tamarind grove as bio-heritage site

M. Raghuram

DEVANAHALLI: Nallur, a village in Devanahalli taluk in Bangalore Rural district which once hosted vast tamarind groves, is now left with a patriarch of a tree, estimated to be 900 years old, still bearing fruit. The grove is now a bio-heritage site and the Karnataka Forest Department has been taking care of it for the last few years.

The tree was among thousands planted during Rajendra Chola’s time at the beginning of the 12th century. Adjacent to the King Tamarind there is Chennakeshava temple built during the Chola period.

The tree stands majestically by the side of the ruins on the road from Devanahalli to Sulibele, 40 km from Bangalore.

‘Amaroy Thopu,’ as it is mentioned in epigraphical records, has still more trees aged between 500 and 800 years on an area of 53.02 acres. The youngest one is about 80 years old.

Potential gene bank

“This could be a gene bank in addition to being a heritage site,” says V. Bhaskar, Professor of Forestry at the National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. “The longevity and the productive years of old trees belonging to the same family of trees is a matter to be studied by biotechnologists.”

Dr. Bhaskar added: “Some trees here have shown extraordinary growth. They have developed prop roots and root suckers that are uncharacteristic of tamarind trees. I reported this phenomenon in My Forest journal in June 2004. Even though the mother trunk was dead, a series of root suckers have arisen from the trunk roots, which were not only unusual but also unknown.”

According to Dr. Bhaskar, prop roots are characteristic of banyan trees and are meant to support lateral extension. But in these tamarind trees prop roots have unusually arisen from within the hollow stems and struck the ground as if the trees were trying to support themselves.

Says horticulture specialist Narayanaswamy: “Tamarind trees have a life cycle of not more than 400 to 500 years, but in this case the life cycle has exceeded 900 years.”

In one case even the trunk roots have got shoots and they have become fruit-bearing trees, he pointed out. They are not independent trees but have sprung up from the mother tree.

One tree with the large trunk was struck by lightning 75 to 80 years ago and the trunk split into two. Over the years, villagers made a path between the two halves. Both halves have become independent trees and bear fruit.

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