Palm TreeTorrential rains and inclement weather spared me some plant watching activity.
This time of course palm variety.
Looking outside from an advantage, a bird's eye view, I could see only one coconut tree about ten feet tall and probably of the same age with no signs of flowering.
Looking down the precipice a few out of the twenty odd palm trees that survived the dry spell has sprung into activity.
After a year long vigil and watering (when I had time) their survival was a bit of a miracle.
The soil not conducive and the water logging not possible (due to the incline) their survival may have been contributed by my vigil, perhaps.
Palms unlike the coconut (which loves the salty soil) are plants that love hot humid and muddy conditions, which support their roots with fungal symbiosis.
The torrential rain was the most conducive and for nearly a decade we did not have similar weather conditions.
I have tried all varieties including arecanut with no success over ten year period so my mind wondered the last time there was a spill over at Victoria Dam.
Incidentally this was after the elections and the change over from the previous regime to the present.
The saying prevalent at that time was “to wash the sins of the previous regime”.
This time whose sins I would not wonder or ponder!
Coming back to palm trees there are over 1000 ornamental varieties and they are very expensive and home delivered for the wealthy in United States.
In Sri-Lanka context, the “Cap Rukha”, the gifted plant is vandalized by the rich developers. Very soon they will be exported to US polythene wrapped. This is quite an irony.
I am not sure where the coconut, the arecanut and the Kithul tree's position in the merit order on the1000 palm trees of the gardener's guide to tropical trees.
I guess the Americans who are likely to be categorized very tall in the merit list of democracy do not like tall trees in their neighborhood.
Also their democratic nuts are not as hard as a coconut and they do not like the impact of coconut falling on their heads.
This is why the oil industry in America had a vicious campaign against coconut oil for nearly fifty years.
The real reason though is that they have lost their evolutionary talent like that of the monkeys in climbing trees and swinging from one tree to another.
Going from country to country and looking for ecological trouble spots is only a pastime.
This is where our politicians who have a coconut size head and arecanut (some of them peanut sized- the American variety) sized brains should explore the possibility of exporting the coconut trees to America.
The justification is that when the next tsunami hits our shores they can re-export them back as aid for the Sri-Lankans (tourists included) to climb and save their lives.
The coconut trunks well preserved would be a new form of life support system developed in America.
Few of the tourists of course saved their life hanging on to them a year ago. They could share the experience with the few tree climbers left in this country. We can promote this as a new millennium sport.
Since most of the tree climbers (party climbers) have joined the parliament over the past half a century they can act as trainers and referees in this sport of tree climbing.
One a lighter note and in a scientific sense the real reason for declining interest in coconut, arecanut and Kithul tree is that all three of them are labour intensive like the tea industry.
Only way to revive these flagging industries is to promote selective breeding of high yielding variety with short trunks so that harvesting is not labour intensive.
For some unknown genetic reasons the short plants and animals have the ability to withstand adverse environmental conditions and it is not a challenge to go for such a variety. One of the reasons that the tall trees and dinosaurs disappeared from this planet is their enormous size. They could not withstand the adversity.
One area we are far behind is the palm oil industry and our Asian giant in hibernation, Malaysia, pioneered the research in this.
They have gone for palm oils even destroying their rain forest. We have to learn a lot from them. Biodiesel is going to be an area we should explore instead of drilling for gas /oil in limited resources offshore.
For me looking down the plane and seeing the coconut trees spanning the landing site is a fascinating scene.
Sadly this scenery is not going to be there in another ten years.
The developers are eying every peace of land to plunder.
In the process they are developing social and economic disasters in the so-called palaces they are building. The coconut triangle is going to be zigzag in no time.
We have so many ministers and ministries in this country a Palm Ministry would not be a burden to the country. In any case some of the parliamentarians are coming from that back ground both in oiling the palms (heads included) and climbing the trees and this is a one sure way to climb the political hierarchy.
For the super market chains and range for this Christmas should include the imported artificial palm trees from India, which do not need any watering, plant care or plant watching.
For a change we could have Santa on a palm tree.
How about that?
21st December 2005