Monday, November 17, 2008

Baobab (Kalptaru) tree is under threat in Jharkhand state of India.

Baobab (Kalptaru) tree is under threat in Jharkhand state of India.

by
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Fig: Baobab tree beside the road in Ranchi city.









Fig: Remaining Kalptaru tree under threat due to vehicles movement.

Fig: Uprooted Baobab tree.

A rare tree, which is over 250 years old, was uprooted due to heavy rainfall in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi. Baobab, also known as Kalpataru, is a rare medicinal tree. According to unofficial report, there are only nine such trees in India. Of the nine, four are found in Ranchi city.
In British rule, a writer of Jharkhand had described its importance and uniqueness.
Muslim traders are credited with their introduction in Jharkhand State from tropical Africa, where the tree is indigenous. All the three trees are found in the Muslim dominated area in Ranchi city.
In Hindu - the tree is considered tree of life, eternity and environment harmony. It is also known as the mythical tree that fulfill desires. The tree is the symbol of our identity and its potential.
Now only three are left. All these remaining trees are also under threat. As they are beside the busy road they are always under the threat due to the movement of heavy vehicles. Movement of such vehicles creates tremors which gradually affects the roots as the roots of baobab( Adansonia digitata) are not deeply rooted in the ground and due to great size of the trunk. Also recently Jharkhand Govt. had decided to cut down these trees to widen the roads.
It has the importance not only in Hindu religion but also in the country like Indonesia. Just like Garuda, Kalpataru tree is also used for various purposes in Indonesia. In Indonesia, Kalpataru is used as the logo of Indonesian Environment Institution.
The baobab is a traditional food plant in Africa, but is little-known elsewhere. It has been suggested that the vegetable has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land care.
This is a strange looking tree; formerly it was cultivated near houses, temples etc. The great size attained by the trunk makes it unsuitable for planting along modern streets. In the past it was cultivated perhaps on account of its strange looks and of its medicinal value of most of its part.
The various parts of the baobab are used to treat a large number of ailments. Nearly every part of the tree has some medicinal value. A few include: powered bark mixed with porridge for malaria; the pulp of the fruit is mixed with honey and is used for coughing; the leaves are used for diarrhoea, fever, inflammation, kidney and bladder diseases, blood clearing, and asthma; the leaves also serve as emollients and are used to help extract guinea worm; the fruits and seeds are used for dysentery, fever, haemoptysis and diarrhoea; dry powered roots are prepared as a mash for malaria; and gum from the bark is used for cleaning sores.
It can grow up to 25 meters tall and can live for several thousand years. The baobab is leafless for nine months of the year.
It is sad how ignorant we are that these trees stand so neglected. Even if they are not the mythological ‘kalpatarus’, they are definitely very old, historical trees, which must have seen generations of Ranchi. Indeed, they need attention.

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