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INDIAN OF FRUIT CROPS HISTORY AND DIVERSITY

S.ESWARA REDDY dr_esreddy@yahoo.co.in


Vrkshayurveda says that the water reservoirs which have no shade on their banks are not pleasing. Hence gardens should be laid in the precincts of reservoirs of water. Soft soil is good for all kinds of trees. First, one should sow sesamum in that soil and when they grow and put forth flowers, they should be uprooted. This is the first process in preparing the land. The astrologers have declared the constellations such as Dhruva, Mrdu, Mula, Visakha, Brhaspati, Sravana, Asvini and Hasta to be auspicious for the planting of trees. The soap-nut tree, Asoka, Pumnaga, Sirisa, Pdyangu, are the auspicious trees and should be planted first in the gardens or the houses. The bread-fruit tree, Asoka, the plantain, the' rose-apple, Lakuca, the pomegranate, the vine, Pativata, the citron and Atimuktaka-these are the trees that grow from scion plastered with mud. They should be carefully planted by taking their stem or by digging them up from the roots. Plants that have not put forth branches should be transplanted in the winter; those that have put forth branches, in the beginning of winter (i.e. the dewy season); and those that have developed trunks, at the advent of the rainy season according to their respective quarters. Transplanting of the trees is done after plastering them root and branch with ghee, usira, sesamum, honey, vidanga, milk and cow dung. The rose-apple, Vetasa, Vanira, Kadamba, Udumbara) Atjuna, the citron, the vine, Lakuca, the pomegranate, Vanjula, Natkarnala, Tilakll, Panasa, Timira and Amrataka are the sixteen trees that grow in the wet or marshy soil. A pit one cubit wide and twice as much deep should be dug and filled with water. When it becomes dry it should be heated with fire and then plastered

with honey and ghee mixed with ashes. It should then be filled with ground Masas, sesamum and barley mixed with soil. Then pouring the broth of the flesh of fish over the filling, it should be beaten down till it becomes hard and compact. If the seed is sown into it four fingers deep and is nurtured with fish-broth and gravy, it grows into a surprising creeper with glistening leaves and soon spreads over the entire bower. Seeds that are soaked in milk for ten days, kept in two hast as of ghee, fumigated with the fumes of the flesh of a hog and deer, and mixed with the fats of fish and hog, grow bearing flowers simultaneously, when sown in a prepared and cleaned soil and nourished with water mixed with milk. Cessation of bearing fruit (i.e. sterility) is cured by Kulattha, Masa, Mudga, sesamum and barley. Along with this, nurturing with boiled and cooled down milk is conducive to the increase of fruit and flower. Two adhakas of the dung of sheep and goats, one adhaka of sesamum, one prastha of meal, a drona of water and beef equal in weight-all these (mixed together and) kept for a week (lit. 7 nights) should be administered as nurture to trees, creepers, thickets and plants for making them bear flower and fruit for all times. Diseases like the searing of leaves, all rest of the growth of leaves, drying up of the branches and excessive exudation of the sap afflict the trees owing to exposure to cold wind and the sun. Their remedy, according to scientific works, lies first in. clearing them (of the diseased part) and then plastering them with the paste of Vidanga and ghee and nurturing them with water mixed with milk. Buddhism adopted the cult of tree worship from the older religions which prevailed in the country (Sixth century B.C). Gautam Buddha was born under 'ASHOKA' (Saraca indica), attained enlightenment under 'PIPAL' (Ficus religiosa), preached his new gospel in mango (Mangifera indica) groves and under the shady 'Banyan' (Ficus benghalensis) and died in the 'SAL' (Shorea

robusta) grove. Most important trees of ecological value were identified with the name of saints who were revered and worshipped in the society during that period.

Name Pipal Banyan Gular Siris Sal Ashoka

Botanical Name Ficus religiosa Ficus benghalensis Ficus glomerata Albizzia lebbeck Shorea robusta Saraca indica

Name of saint Sakya muni Kashyapa Kanaka muni Krakuchhanda Vishwa bahu Vipaswi

Buddha attained perfect wisdom under the PIP AL tree; hence it is called the "tree of knowledge". People during the period of Buddha were involved in tree planting and in every village 'Banyan' and 'Pipal' trees were planted. Never before or after has religion been so much associated with the tree culture and tree planting. During 237B.C emperor Ashoka actively promoted tree planting on large scale. For the first time in the Indian history, a monarch has encouraged tree culture and adopted it as a state policy. He encouraged planting of trees in the gardens, along road and in the form of avenues. Mughal emperor Jahangir (1616-1674) was the greatest builder of gardens in India. The famous gardens of Kashmir, Shalimar, Anantnag and Verinage owe their existence to him. In ancient India messages were given through religion to establish sound traditions based on the realisation that partnership between the women and nature ensured sustenance. Women were therefore actively associated with tree culture and in many places trees

like Pipal, Banyan, Gular, Siris, Sal, Ashoka, Aonla, Neem and Shami (Prosopis cineraria) were worshipped. The leaves of Mango and Neem were considered auspicious and leaves and flowers of Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) and Marygold were used for worship. Tulsi' was the symbol of cosmos. All these traditions are practised in India even today. The ancient Indian civilization was primarily dependent upon and intimately related with forests and flora in Sanskrit scriptures (like Vrikshayurveda, Upavana vinoda, Brhat Samhita, etc) the science of plant life has been described and three indigenous fruits viz., mango banana and jackfruit are extensively mentioned. Archaeobotanical endience record wild date, jambos, banana, jujube, apricot, apricot, breadfruit, etc,. There is a rich heritage of mango varieties in India. Mango fruit had attracted the fancy of Moghul rulers especially there are choice varieties like Alphonso, Dashehari, Mulgoa, etc,. In citrus natural interspecific and intervarietal hybrids occur extensively in rootstock material which have been found to carry tolerance to viruses and root diseases. Indigenous citrus germplasm provide a good source of parents for rootstock breeding programs. In temperate fruit wild species of Prunus, Pyrus and Malus have been recorded in Himalayas and these carry resistance to root rot and collar and cold hardiness. A Sanskrit treatise Sarangathara Padhati an anthology compiled by Sarangadhara a courtier of king Hammira, contains Padhati an anthology compiled treating arbori-horticulture (translated by Majumder 1935) In Brhat Samhita (ca 500 A.D) there are reference on the methods of propagation like cuttings grafting and about plants suitable for different methods of propagating Propagation of jackfruit, jamun and fact Sadhale (1996) draws a close parallel and resemblance among Vrikshayuveda of Surapala (ca 1000 AD) Upavana Vinoda of

Sarangadhara and Varaha Mihiras Brhatsamhita in respect of science of plant life. The Brahma Vaivata Purana (around 800 AD) lists some good fruits which include indigenous ones like mango (amra), banana (kadali) jackfruit (panasa), bael (sriphala) and introduced but ancient ones like pomegrante (dadima) date (khajura) and grape (draksa) (sensarma 1989) (Table 1) Four fruits, viz., mango, banana, bael and jackfruit are considered as ancient and sacred fruits extensively used in pujas religious festivals and ceremonial occasions. Table 1. Fruits mentioned in the Puranas. Dadima (E) Vayu, Mastsya, Brahmavaivarta (Pomegranate) Brahma, Kurma Khajura (Wild (E) Vayu, Mastsya, Brahmavaivarta Date) Brahma, Kurma Jambu (Jamun) (I) Vayu, Kurma Amra (Mango) (I) Vayu, Brahmavaivarta, Brahma, Agni, Mastsya, Kurma Panasa (Jack (I) Brahmavaivarta, Vayu, Brahma, fruit) Mastsya, Kurma Kadali (Banana) (I) Vayu, Mastsya, Brahmaviarta, Brahma, Agni Narikela (I) Brahmavaivarta, Agni, Brahma (Coconut) Sriphala (I) Brahmavaivarta, Vamana, (Vilva/Bael) Kurma I=indigenous E=exotic Source: Sensarma, 1989 The Indian sub-continent is a center of domestication and diversity of wide array of plant materials and Vavilov (1949)

designated this center as Tropical south asian Center. Zevan and de wet (1982) assigned this as Hindustani Center as an important region of diversity of crop plants. The Moghuls Spanards, Potuguese and the British introduced new fruit crops such as apple pear peach spricot grape almond date palm cashew nut litchiu strawberry, blueberry and pineapple. Fruits plants introductions into India occurred during the ancient times through traders, invaders, travellers etc., Thus grape is reported to have been introduced in tropical India during 620 BC (Olma, 1976) and subsequently by invaders from AFghanistan and Persia in 1300 AD. Pomegranate, sapota and loquat reached India so early that their exact period of introduction is difficult to trace. Hiuen Tsiang, the Chinese pilgrim, mentioned the presence of pomegranate in 629 AD stated that loquat was not present. He also saw grapes, pear, peach, plum, apricot and Diospyros sp. Custard apple was perhaps introduced into India even before Portuguese brought the other species of Annona. Pineapple reached India as early as 1548. Both pineapple and custard apple are recorded in Ain-i-Akbari. Fruits like guava and papaya introduced in the sixteenth century and litchi in seventeenth century naturalized so much that these appear to be native in India. Most of the present day commercial cultivars of these fruits are selections from the variability generated by the introduced types.