Pear tree stands as umbrella over our head

  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Order - Gentianales
  • Family - Apocynaceae
  • Genus - Alstonia

The pear tree also known as ‘chatim’ is the state tree of west Bengal. Although most people are unaware of it. As they lack knowledge and neither are they concerned when it comes to knowing the plant or animal kingdom. Alstonia consists of 40-60 species and are native to Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia, Polynesia And Australia. These trees can grow very large up to 100 -150ft in height in a time span of 40-50years.

Medicinal Value :

Alstonia trees are used in traditional medicine. The bark of the Alstonia constricta and the Alstonia scholaris is a source of a remedy against malaria, toothache, rheumatism and snake bites, Epilepsy, Asthma, Ulcer, Beri-Beri, The latex is used in treating coughs, throat sores and fever.

Seed Collection :

The pear fruit grows at the tip of the tree. As a result when the fruit drops from the tree Most of its seeds are trapped on the leaves before it reaches the ground. Therefore it gets quite difficult To extract those seeds from such top height for the seed collectors. Moreover, the wind generally blows Away the seeds to dense grassland from which it becomes almost impossible for the seed collectors to take out the seeds. Even then the blooming rate of the seed is 100% provided it receives sufficient sunlight and proper environment. Nevertheless, the expansion of this tree is a tough row to hoe.

Economic Importance :

The wood is used for manufacturing packing cases and boxes for packing tea, writing boards and lamina boards. Wood charcoal is used for gun powder. Can be peeled easily and accepted as suitable for 3rd class commercial plywood after necessary treatment. It is good enough for making both match boxes and splints, also fairly suitable for second grade pencil and paper industry.

Bark which is bitter in taste is used as an astringent, tonic and useful for diarrhea and dysentery. The milky juice of bark is applied to sores and ulcers. Bark also yields a fiber. Flowers yield an alkaloid ‘Picrinine‘which acts as a depressant on the central nervous system

Superstition :

The dilemma with Alstonia in cities is although it provides adequate shelter to every human being as well as birds. The thick branches and leaves acts as an obstruction in the way of electrical wires and traffic. Hence, amongst the trees which are cut down for the convenience of vehicles and to broaden the breadth of the road, 50% of the trees include Alstonia.

The Alstonia trees are also rumored to be haunted as the branches and twigs fall off at the slightest gush of wind or thunderstorm where on the other hand other frail looking trees stand tall due to their strong stems. This creates a sense of foreboding and people come to the conclusion that the tree is possessed. The fear of the unknown has strengthened their belief all the more in the supernatural even in the following generations. It is because of this false notion, vast number of Alstonia trees are cut down everyday

No other tree can replace the pear tree when it comes to the conservation of biodiversity of our state. Therefore, it is essential to keep it alive.

"A battle against superstition and Leaf's meat consumption are badly required to save this unique primate species in the wild" -says Samik Gupta.

Khejri tree under ‘Gahen’ virus attack!

  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Order - Fabales
  • Family - Fabaceae
  • Genus - Prosopis
  • Species -Prosopis cineraria

Khejri tree, Prosopis cineraria is found in abundance in Rajasthan, it provides food and shade to humans as well as animals. Hence, it is no less than a boon in the hot and dry Thar Desert of Rajasthan, where life is at its extremes without water. But this extremely environment friendly and drought resistant tree is in danger of extinction as it is plagued by a particular plant virus Encarsia Formosa, locally known as ‘Gahen’. The virus is destroying it by and by. Immediate scientific measures and necessary counter defence mechanisms should be executed or else the future of Khejri is in dark!

Khejri is a desert specific flowering species, belongs to the pea family, Fabaceae. It is native to arid portions of Oman, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In India, Khejri once abundant in Rajasthan. It is the state tree of Rajasthan, which can grow devoid of any obvious sources of water. Further it extends up to the southern part of Maharashtra, A.P. and Karnataka.

History :

In Rajasthan, the Bishnoi tribe of the Khejrali village sacrificed 363 lives in order to save the Khejri tree which the then king commanded to cut down in order to build a fort. No other incident in history has witnessed a similar event or tradegy. Men, women and children flocked around the khejri trees and clung on them in order to save the trees from being cut down. All of them were beheaded. The Bishnois are dedicated environmentalist because they have 29 commandments (as the Bible has 10 commandments) amongst which 9 are related to nature and wildlife conservation. Hence, cutting down trees and hunting animals is completely against their culture and religion.

Uses :

The pea like vegetable which grows on Khejri is an essential source of food for humans as well as animals for the people residing in deserts. It has of immense importance when it comes to the socio-economic aspects of that region and that is why it has been named as ‘Desert Gold’. The protruded roots of this trees are pruned which later increases the fertility of the land. The roots are make their grip deep inside the soil. Therefore in case of low rainfall, which is quite the situation in deserts, they keep themselves hydrated through water situated deep inside the earth’s crust. The wood of P. cineraria is a good fuel source, and provides excellent charcoal plus firewood, fodder, green manure and goat-proof thorny fences. The leaves are consumed by livestock .its deep roots avoid competition for water with crops

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