Tuesday, August 04, 2009

With 800 species, IISc is a botanical delight

With 800 species, IISc is a botanical delight
Prashanth G N | TNN

Bangalore: IISc is indeed a botanist’s delight — the vast campus has over 800 species of plants that include exotic varieties like jacaranda, bauhinias, the yellow Carribean tree, copperpods, yellow silk cottons and coral trees?
Do we also know that exotica like Araucaria, Tabebuias, Balsa, Shaving Brush tree have been planted in the campus in the 1930s? Very aptly, a senior researcher from IISc’s Centre for Ecological Sciences K Sankara Rao has documented the botanical side to IISc in a new work called ‘IISc Campus: A Botanist’s Delight’.
H Y Mohan Ram, who has reviewed this work on IISc in the journal Current Science, says exotic plant varieties were planted “at various periods of time by the directors of the Institute (and their spouses), horticulturists, plant lovers and members of the faculty”.
“Some tree or other is always at bloom, but the best season to visit IISc is from February to May, when colourful blossoms of various hues, gulmohur, cassias, jacaranda, bauhinias, the yellow Carribean tree, copperpods, yellow silk cottons and coral trees fill your heart. Carpets of fallen flowers are a sight to behold,” says Ram.
He says the author has given “a short but vivid picture of a blend of the wild and domesticated plant diversity of the campus”. Around 285 plants have been identified, there’s also a map, an index of plant names and exotic pictures.
Variety fare
IISc has bamboos, gigantic lianas (specially the Callingcard Vine across CES) and slender climbers, ephemeral wild annuals, as well as beds of annual ornamental herbs, grasses, sedges, succulents, aquatic and marsh plants, orchids, flowering parasites and gymnosperms (seed plants that bear no fruit).
Ram observes: “Each displays a part or the whole plant with enlargements which bring out the structure of the flowers and fruits. The common English name, the scientific name, the family to which it belongs and a brief description of the unique features are given for each plant.
The flowering and fruiting seasons, the location of the plant(s) and their nativity are provided. Technical terms have been minimized to arouse interest among beginners.” A list of 290 plants found on campus but not included in the book has also been appended for those interested in exploring the campus further.
Ram complements Rao for his work. “KSR is an expert photographer. This asset helps him use his mind, eye and the index finger in capturing the beauty of the whole plants. Despite several problems, KSR has made an admirable effort in producing an aesthetically appealing and scientifically accurate work, worthy of the occasion.
“I would like to complement the author and his associates, Suresh and Datta Raj, and all those who have contributed to the compilation of this attractive volume and the director, IISc, and colleagues for their persuasion and encouragement.”
This book is bound to invoke nostalgia among the alumni and enthuse the present and future generations of faculty and scholars to learn more about the splendour of plant life.
“The centenary is an occasion to record our gratitude to the superintendents and gardeners who have tended the plants with love, year after year. A lofty tree could be named in their honour,” says Ram.
Gigantic lianas (specially the Callingcard Vine across CES)
Slender climbers, ephemeral wild annuals
Beds of annual ornamental herbs, grasses
Sedges, succulents
Aquatic and marsh plants
Orchids, flowering parasites
Gymnosperms (seed plants that bear no fruit).
Araucaria Tabebuias Balsa Shaving Brush tree


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