Farewell, Ponnus

August 2, Sunday, shall be a dark day for the thousand-odd members of Naadan Mavukal, a collective on a mission to guard and protect Kerala’s indigenous mango bushes. One of their favorite bushes, affectionately named Ponnus, is to be felled by its house owners on that day.

Ponnus is at a house in Kollengode, Palakkad district, Kerala. For a minimum of 40 years constantly, it has been producing over 2,000 mangoes in the course of the season (from December to June). However, the family is in want of a automobile porch and Ponnus has to go, for it occupies the area earmarked for the porch.

“An official documentation of indigenous mango trees has not been done and this is the only tree of its kind that we have identified,” says Sakhil Raveendran, who heads the Thrissur-based collective. He says he discovered the uncommon native tree final yr, whereas on one in all his “mango tree hunts”. Fascinated by the sweetness of the mangoes and the peculiarities of the tree, Sakhil added it to the group’s native listing, which has listed about 200 distinct sorts of indigenous mango bushes to this point. He named it Ponnus (which roughly interprets to darling).

Ponnus is short compared to other native mango trees

Ponnus is brief in comparison with different native mango bushes  

Unlike generally discovered indigenous mango bushes, Ponnus is shorter (a bit wanting a two-storied constructing) with shorter branches. “It is a delight to see Ponnus during the mango season. Each branch has a bunch of mangoes, and each bunch has no less than five mangoes. Each mango weighs up to 150 gms,” Sakhil says. The flavour is distinctive, characterised by a touch of camphor. The pores and skin is ashen-green in color.

Sakhil and his crew have collected its seeds as a part of the group’s Indigenous Mango Tree Conservation Project, and presently have about 100-150 seedlings. “The seedlings are very small and need intense care to grow. This may have been one of the reasons why the tree has not been able to propagate naturally,” says Sakhil. The seedlings shall be given to members of the group throughout Kerala in two weeks.

Sakhil believes that grafting can make sure the preservation of the variability. Hence the group has requested consultants from nurseries and officers from the Agricultural University, Mannuthy, to gather graft buds from Ponnus earlier than it’s felled, says Sakhil. The group is often immune to grafting, as they consider within the pure propagation of a tree. “However, in rare cases such as this, grafting is the only option,” says Sakhil.

Though the group tried its greatest to dissuade the household from felling Ponnus, it seems to be just like the tree shall be pressured to say ‘goodbye’. A couple of months in the past, the group saved an analogous polyembryonic native mango tree, referred to as Jailor. It was the final surviving tree of its sort in Kerala, however needed to be felled because of the menace attributable to its branches to the home. Fortunately, the group intervened and picked up grafts. Jailor is now starting to sprout in several components of the State.

Seedlings of Ponnus mango tree

Seedlings of Ponnus mango tree  

“We have lost several unsung indigenous varieties due to a lack of awareness. Kanimangalam in Thrissur had three Eucalyptus mango trees (named thus for the hint of eucalyptus in flavour), all of which have been felled. Someone who loved the taste of the mango got a single graft and that is the only remaining sapling,” says Sakhil.

The members of the group are hopeful their conservation efforts will bear fruit. Sakhil says, “We hope, with the grafting efforts and seedlings, at least 2,000 Ponnus mango trees would get a chance to grow.”

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