Trees are one of the most wonderful gifts of nature to mankind. They dominate the life systems evolved on earth. They are undoubtedly the most significant living objects in our biosphere because of their unique form, size and the longevity. Unlike the herbaceous plants, trees undergo an unbelievable magnitude of metamorphosis during their lifecycle. In the past, they had virtually covered most of the earth. The trees literally ruled the continents for millions of years and had witnessed evolutionary climax much before the evolution of mammals, let alone man.
The term fossil refers to the naturally preserved remains of any living object that existed long ago. Most of the fossils re just in the form of impressions in hardened mud, turned into sedimentary rocks in course of time. The fossils are generally rare and bring into our mind the feeling of antiquity and arouse our curiosity on the life that formed the beginning of the present day creatures.
The expression living fossil as used, does not really mean any real fossil, but it refers to the glorious antiquity of the still existing and survived living object may be an animal or a plant. We know that the trees of maidenhairfren, Ginkgo biloba, are often referred to as the living fossils as they belong to an ancient stock of primitive plants, whose survival to the present times itself is a botanical and ecological mystery. What a wonder, we can see the real fossils of that plant in museums and also its real living tree on the lawns of the same museum, together!
The present narration on the living fossil trees of Nallur does not pertain to any unknown or less known tree, but it pertains very much to a tree that makes most familiar landscape around us. It is the omnipresent tree. Words go short to praise its stateliness, majesty, magnanimity, strength, firmness, utility and more than anything else its longevity.
The tamarind trees are believed to live longer than most other cultivated tropical flora on earth. These are tamarind trees on records, which had lived over thousand years! We can safely guess that they may live still longer in exceptional cases. If a thousand year old tree still exists, by what name it befits to be called? No wrong if it is called a living fossil .
You may find it quite surprising to hear that some tamarind trees in our vicinity are grand antiquity. Such living fossil tamarind trees are making a living in the ruins of Nallur, in Devanahalli taluk of the Bangalore district. If you travel about 8 kms from Devanahalli, you will land into an awesome tamarind grove, some of the trees, which date back to about 800 years. Of course you will also find younger trees of about 500 years, 300 years, 100 years and some trees belonging to the present time, all making a wonderful co-existence, in perfect peace. No murmuring no generation gap!
On thorough examination and assessment, we have come to firm conclusion that some of the oldest tamarind trees at Nallur grove are really the oldest in Karnataka, and perhaps in the entire country too!
We try to describe a grand old and massive tamarind tree growing in Nallur, in our own expression The very sight of it is awesome, incredible and unbelievable. If some one is blindfolded and is brought near this tree and if the blindfolds are removed in front of the tree, he may mistake this tree to a small mountain! Over the course of several centuries the trunk is grown, over grown, hard grown, bulged, twisted, crinkled, distorted, tuberecled, disfigured and one can hardly make out that it is a tamarind tree, because our conception of the tamarind tree is entirely a different one. The trunk is huge that 8 people with their arms extended may be able to just cover its circumference. Its anchorage must be really firm as it has been able to withstand 800 summer winter and rainy seasons. Withstanding the rise and fall of empires with their emperors, arrival and departures of invaders, birth and death of many great saints and scholars!
Some of these antique trees have fallen onto the ground, but have not died. They pose the look of a tired giant who is relaxing.
The age-old trunks of some of the fallen trees have broken into halves making clean passage in between. The rejuvenation capacity of the tamarind tree is so remarkable, that new, upright branches have emerged from the fallen trunks. It seems that even after several centuries and even after meeting with different accidents and calamities, the tamarind tree has been reluctant to end its life. It still exists and seems like it will continue to live for some more years if not disturbed or damaged.
Another interesting fact notice din Nallur is that even the trees that are centuries old are continually bearing fruits. Some trees are fully filled with fruits that we cannot make out the green foliage of the tree, which is made to hide behind the fruits it bears. If these trees are vegetatively propagated, could form a high yielding variety.
Lastly these living fossils of Nallur, which are a unique gift of nature in all respects should be protected and maintained in a befitting manner for posterity.