Thursday, April 9, 2015

Image result for lantana plant in indiaImage result for congress grass

How and where to forage for common gorse

Plant Invaders

The picture on the top left is that of ragweed. The ragweed seeds got into Indian subcontinent, as the popular belief goes, along with the massive wheat imports that this country was forced to do to avoid famine, during the times of Nehru. This noxious plant is endemic to the US and Canada and has found a safe heaven in India. As there is no natural enemy it has grown unbridled all across the country.Where ever there is vacant land you will surely find this plant. This unsolicited American gift, is popularly called congress grass! Very aptly named considering the damage congress party has caused to this country over the past 60 years
Ragweed is very poisonous plant and during flowering season, slews millions of spores in to the air. These plant particles when inhaled produce severe allergy in the nose and lungs.When skin comes into contact it causes itchy dermatitis.
Many years ago, in my area, there was a lot of unbuilt area and there was profuse growth of this weed. So was the incidence of nasal and lung allergy. Over the years most of the land has been built up and the weed disappeared from the locality and the incidence of allergy came down drastically!
This is not the only harm this weed does. It has replaced fodder grass in many places and thus is a pest for cattle and even herbivore wild life.
Is there no use at all? There is. It can be cut and used as green manure and for bio gas generation!

The picture of the plant with beautiful flowers is Lantana. As records go this invader came to India some 200 years ago and has become endemic through out the country. Especially so in our nature and wildlife sanctuaries.Like ragweed this plant too has no natural enemies and has grown all over, where ever there is vacant land. Its growth is particularly worrying as it replaces grass and thus deprives fodder for herbivores.If the population of small animals is in danger, the others like leopard and tiger too will find survival difficult.Those of you who have driven in the Mudumalai and Ooty hill roads cannot but fail to see this plant's rampant growth on either side of the road.
Is the plant entirely useless? Attempts are being made to use this in furniture making with some success. Butt the harm this plant is doing to our ecosystem is far more than than the good!

The plant at the bottom with spike full of thorns is Gorse. I have seen this plant only above 4000ft elevation in south India. But my hunch is that it is present all over the country above this height. This is gift by the English expat [could be Irish/Scot]. The man must have have missed this familiar plant native to his country that he brought it and planted as e hedge. The hedge didn't remain so, and can now be found all over. Full of thorns with dense small leaves, the gorse bush doesn't allow one to get across and many a golfer in the Ooty hill course thinks it better to abandon the ball rather than look for it in these bushes.
In its native country, they have found many uses for this including making wine!

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