THE GREEN THAT’S BAD NEWS
Experts Say Mexican Species New Threat After Vilayati Kikar
New Delhi: The Delhi Ridge which is already battling a foreign invader from Mexico — a highly invasive tree species called vilayati kikar (Prosopis juliflora) — may now be up against another tree from the same country. According to Pradip Krishen, environmentalist and author of Trees of Delhi, the green lung of the capital has seen an immense growth of subabul (Leucaena leucocephala), which if unchecked could lead to disaster or the Ridge.
Krishen explained that the tree grows in tough conditions and propagates readily. In the past three years, it has flourished alongside the vilayati kikar and the two invasive species threaten to take over large portions of the Ridge and drastically reduce the space for other species to survive and grow.
“While the species reached Delhi in the 1970s, the spurt in its numbers came in the past few years. Its propensity to spread easily and quickly can prove a disaster for the Ridge and it has to be checked,” cautioned Krishen, who uproots all subabul saplings he comes across during his morning walks with his dogs.
The tree expert pointed out that a similar problem had occurred at the Delhi Golf Club, where subabul was planted for its fast growth, but had soon colonised a large area. “They grow quickly, and fully grown you cannot chop them down without the permission of the forest department,” Krishen added.
The species was chosen for its farm-forestry utility in 1970