A close encounter with nature

As early morning sun rays seep through the trees at Nehru Park, environmentalist Pradip Krishen, along with a group of four people stands at the entry of the park at Nyaya Marg. Waiting for the youngsters to join them for the ‘Tree Walk’, Krishen faces disappointment when only one kid joins the group. 

“I thought we will talk about wild vegetation today,” says Krishen. “Why not, we don’t want any serious walk today. Let’s just be kids today,” interrupts one of the volunteers, who along with others reached Nehru Park early morning when few health conscious are exercising in the park.  In seconds, Krishen replies, “Don’t expect me to talk about those flowers planted by horticulture department. We will only talk about those specific seasonal plants which grow on their own and don’t need any maintenance.”  It sounds intriguing to everyone present there. Metrolife was also a part of it and it shares how this unique concept of tree walk is getting popular just like heritage walks conducted in the city.

Krishen begins the walk by talking about the rocks that welcome us at the entrance. “These rocks are almost two billion years old. They are metamorphic rocks, crystallised and compressed. It is called ‘Delhi Stone’, which you can easily find in  Badarpur,” says the environmentalist. He takes the group to a patch of land which hasn’t been touched by gardeners, only small wild vegetation exists.
He begins with Medicago, a tiny plant having heart shaped leaves and yellow flowers which have to be seen through magnifying glasses. Pradip takes out one. Amidst the foliage, he looks for another variety and he finds Gnaphlium from daisy family. “The structure of the flower is strange, not attractive. But it loves moist places so it grows in winter and spring,” he says. 

Just adjacent to it is the Eragrostis grass, looking which Krishen says, “In Delhi alone there are 70-80 different species of this grass. The distinction can be made only through flowers.” 

Krishen’s attention is drawn towards a unique plant Shepherd’s Purse, whose heart-shaped leaves are not exactly leaves but fruit. Even a closer look creates an illusion. He finds one plant that does not belong to Delhi. “It is Lantana and it escaped into the world from cultivation days,” he says. 

As the group moves ahead, they see small ridge from where small plants are finding place for existence. “They don’t remain so small. It can grow up to seven to eight feet,” says Krishen pointing at Securinaga plant.

Pointing at other varieties of wild vegetation, the group reaches at the other end of the park where there are trees, standing tall for years. From kusum to palash, sheesham, brahmi and many more, the environmentalist talked about interesting trees and their unique pattern of flowering and shedding of leaves.

“Tree walks are a beautiful experience for people to recognise, admire and make friends with the living world around us,” says Padmavati Dwivedi, founder of the group Compassionate Living. “We have been organising these walks to instill respect for nature with a hope that it will lead to nurturing and protection of trees and environment in our cities,” she says.  

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