THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Unlike the older generations, students no longer have the privilege of walking to their schools, spotting the various trees that line the road. To help them get familiar with trees, the environmental activists at ‘Tree Walk’ are conducting an exhibition at Carmel Girls’ School, Peyad. The exhibition, titled ‘Tree Landmarks of Thiruvananthapuram’, has on display trees photographed against the all-too familiar landmarks of the city.
Santhi Sharma, a Tree Walk coordinator, says, “There are books like ‘Keralathile Vana Sasyangal’, which lists the trees we see every day. But it is not easy to get through the scientific jargon and diagrams that await you inside those. One needs to get familiar with trees by paying attention to them as we walk past them. It is just like getting to know a person.”
There is a small tree photographed on the Vellayambalam-Vazhuthacaud road, whose crown looks like a Rastafarian’s hair. The exhibition informs that it is a guacimo tree, a native of the Caribbean, South America, Central America and Mexico. Interestingly, in Kerala it is called ‘Uthraksham’, indicating that it has been part of our culture long enough to have a Malayalam name. A lot of city trees shown at the exhibition are not originally from Kerala. How did these land in Kerala? The coordinators say that it could be a result of the foreign invasion in the past or our own affinity for the exotic.
Santhi says, “The Social Forestry Wing usually chooses exotic species as avenue trees. Now some of the indigenous species are becoming rarer. We sometimes go up to them and ask them why they can’t plant a species like say a ‘Thanni’ (Baheda). After our repeated requests, they planted four Thanni saplings by the side of a road.”
The exhibition will conclude on Tuesday by 1 pm. It has four sections: ‘Landmark trees’, which we see on the roads of our city; ‘Wonder dozen trees’ that occupy the 55-acre compound of Napier Museum; ‘Plants to plant’ which are garden plants; ‘The unique ones’ which are rare. The photographs in the exhibition have been shot by Suresh Elamon and Veena M.