There is no harmful living being in this earth and nature created everything with specific roles to play, in order to balance the ecosystem. But sometimes a few living beings can be regarded as harmful to some other species.
Would you hate a tree which can grow in any extremely arid environment, saline soil and stay ever green? Most importantly it can grow fast on its own! Are we supposed to hate such a tree? If I say ‘Yes’ you would feel that I am insane. But there are people who hate such special trees!
You must have seen this Tree in your villages, even urban bushes or alongside roads. “Prosopis juliflora” also called as algarrobe,cambrón, cashaw, épinard, mesquite, mostrenco, or mathenge is probably the most hated tree in the world now. Many countries declared this a weed and prohibited them planting this. Destruction campaigns are actively happening in many parts of the world to weed out these trees.
Why people hate this tree?
Prosopis juliflora Commonly called as “Mesquite” is a shrub or small tree. It is native to Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. It has become established as an invasive weed in Africa, Asia, Australia and elsewhere.
It has become an invasive weed in several countries where it was introduced. It is considered a noxious invader in Ethiopia, in Hawaii, in Sri Lanka, Jamaica, the Middle East, India, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Senegal and southern Africa. It is also a major weed in the southwestern United States. It is hard and expensive to remove as the plant can regenerate from the roots. Its aggressive growth leads to a monoculture, denying native plants water and sunlight, and not providing food for native animals and cattle.
A mature tree can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds. Seeds remain viable for up to 10 years. The tree reproduces by way of seeds, not vegetatively. Seeds are spread by cattle and other animals that consume the seed pods and spread the seeds in their droppings.
Its roots are able to grow to a great depth in search of water: in 1960, they were discovered at a depth of 53 meters (175 feet) at an open-pit mine near Tucson, Arizona, putting them among the deepest known roots.
In Australia, mesquite has colonized more than 800,000 hectares of arable land, having severe economic and environmental impacts. With its thorns and many low branches it forms impenetrable thickets which prevent cattle from accessing watering holes, etc. It also takes over pastoral grasslands and uses scarce water. Livestock which consume excessive amounts of seed pods are poisoned. It causes land erosion due to the loss of the grasslands that are habitats for native plants and animals.
In Sri Lanka this mesquite was planted in the 1950s near Hambantota as a shade and erosion control tree. It then invaded the grass lands in and around Hambantota.
In the Arabian Peninsula where P. juliflorais invasive has strong negative impacts on native species despite increases in the concentrations of some nutrients in sub-canopy soil.[Source]
Scientists say P. juliflora has survived where other tree species have failed.
The concern in the 1970s and 1980s about deforestation, desertification and fuel wood shortage prompted a wave of projects, leading to the introduction of the species on a large-scale manner in the State and elsewhere.
They say the invasion by this species is going in several areas. The growth and spread of Prosopis is tremendous mainly due to its inbuilt mechanism to overcome adverse conditions. The ‘proline’ content in Prosopis is high under stress conditions, which helped the plant to thrive under extreme drought. – Courtesy : The Hindu
Prosopis was introduced in India during the 1870s to meet the fuel wood demand and in Tamil Nadu the 1960
It is called bayahonda blanca in Spanish, bayarone Français in French, in Hindi it is called angaraji babul, Kabuli kikar, vilayati babul, vilayati khejra or vilayati kikar. In Gujarati it is called gando baval, in Marwari, baavlia, in Kannada it is known as “Ballaari Jaali” and in Tamil language it is known as cheemai karuvel (சீமைக்கருவேலை)
Every species has it’s role to play as we mentioned earlier. This Tree has nothing to consider it as evil or to hate it. The only this is that it has spread in wrong habitats. Just like letting Lions to live free in cities. Regardless of whatever the negatives that the people see in this tree, I consider this as a Solid Fighter and a Rock Tree to survive even in Deserts. Let these trees find its actual home, where no other trees or plants can grow. The nature will do the rest of its magic which many of us are reluctant to accept. Hope people see this from the nature’s perspective.