Green treasure in M'lore varsity

Green treasure in M'lore varsity

Kallu baale is known for its medicinal value.

The tropical forests of the Western Ghats represent one of the most diverse, fragile and complex eco system in the world. The Western Ghats is one of the globally recognised hotspots and is home to many endemic and endangered species. The Mangalore University’s Department of Applied Botany with the assistance from John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation of Chicago has established an arboretum spread over five hectares of land on the university campus for the introduction of the endemic taxa of the Western Ghats. Since endemic plants are found in restricted areas often requiring special niche for survival, many of them particularly those with restricted distribution, are extinction prone especially if their habitats are disturbed.

According to Prof K R Chandrashekar, Chairman, Department of Applied Botany at the university, the arboretum has about 2,000 trees with 57 tree species. In addition, it has 16 endemic species of herbs, 23 species of shrubs and two species of bamboo. Several endemic species are of economic importance including timber yielding, plants yielding gums and resins and medicines.

The arboretum not only helps in educating the people, particularly, student community about the diversity of the plants in Western Ghats and the need to conserve them, but also serves as a source material for micropropogation of rare and endangered plants. A green house is also coming up in the arboretum. It has a field laboratory to carry out taxonomic investigations in the field itself. Another specialty of the arboretum is that even Swampy species such as ‘Garcinia Indica’ is also planted here. It is one such type of swampy species which is found in Mangalore.

A check dam was constructed to maintain moisture for a longer period. Some of the trees in the arboretum are “kolikukke” or “kolikutda” (Baccaurea courtallensis), ‘Arenga wightii Griffith’ (Kaadu Echalu), ‘Artocarpus hirsutus Lam’ (Hebbalasu), ‘Calophyllum apetalum Wild’ (Hole honne), ‘Cinnamomum malabarum Blume’ (Egin), ‘Dipterocarpus indicus Beddome’ (Yenne mara), ‘Flacourtia montana Graham’ (Sapalika), ‘Garcinia gummi-gutta’ (Manthu huli), ‘Garcinia indica Choisy’ (punarpuli), ‘Gymnacranthera farquhariana’ (Pundai mara), ‘Hydnocarpus pentandra Oken’ (Surante).

Prof Chandrashekar said majority of the plants have been collected from its original habitats and a few of them were collected from Kerala Forest Research Institute, Trissur, and Tropical Botanical Garden Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram. The Ministry of Environment had sanctioned Rs 15 lakh to provide infrastructure in the arboretum a year ago.

Herbal garden

In addition to it, the university has M V Shastry Herbal Garden, a separate garden of medicinal plants, trees and herbs having endemic, rare, endangered and threatened species. The garden spread over two acres has about 150 species of medicinal plants /trees/herbs/shrubs, he said.

The garden has “shalmale” (Bombacaceae) plant having thorns. It has “Ekanayaka” (Hippocrateaceae) plant. Its root is used in controlling diabetes, Prof Chandrashekar said and added that the plant was mostly found in Karwar region, the population of which has now become very thin.

The garden has “bili nekki” (Verbinaceae), tamra pushpa (Lythraceae) which is used as a tonic in disorders of mucous membrane, “choori mullu” (Rhamnaceae) which can heal wounds, “anile kayi” (Combrataceae) which has antiseptic quality, “sarpagandha” (Apocyanaceae), “konde mara,” “Anjoor,” ‘Kaadu baale,” “Brahmi,” “Lolerasa,” “Lavancha,” “Nela bevu” “Kiratha kaddi,” “Ishwara beru,” “Buruga,” “Muthuga,” “Honne,” “Ekkamale,” “Maphala” “Nelakanchu” and the like.

Prof Chandrashekar said that the garden would be extended to another three acres by utilising some amount from Rs 60 lakh sanctioned to the department by the Ministry of Science and Technology under Vision Group of the State government recently.  

The garden will have a green fencing by growing ‘lantana’ ‘Aadusoge’, ‘Sithale,’ ‘Kalli’ etc. It has a small pond and a vermicompost unit, says Prof Chandrashekar.

The Depatment of Applied Botany of Mangalore University is also recognised as “Centre of Excellence” by the VGST, Government of Karnataka to continue research in the areas of conservation and Bioprospecting of the endemic and endangered species of the Western Ghats.

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