D N Srikanta Raje Urs with Bharathi Sridhar Raje Urs, vice president of Sri Jayachamaraja Ursu Education Trust, at Sri Vani Vilas Ursu Girls High School in Mysuru
He walks up to a plant and stops. He looks at it closely to confirm if it is a rare flowering plant. “It would look beautiful growing on the roadside and on the hill in Mysuru,” he muses. He won’t rest until he gets the seeds and sows them in Mysuru. Outwardly there is nothing about him that would point to the vast knowledge he has about rare flowers. He does his job quietly.
Seventy-four-year-old D N Srikanta Raje Urs, a trustee and joint secretary of Sri Jayachamaraja Urs Education Trust, is on a mission to recapture the flower power of Mysuru.
Tabebuia Chrysantha, Jacaranda, Cassia Nodosa, Mammea Suriga: Bursts of these yellow, violet and pink blossoms used to dot the city’s landscape. These rare flowering plants are slowly becoming extinct and some have vanished, thanks to rapid urbanisation.
But Srikanta Raje Urs wants to make Mysuru bloom again. He seeds exotic flowering plants and ensures they grow into trees. What is unique about some of these flowers is that they bloom during Dasara.
He has been busy collecting seeds of these flowering trees from Lalbagh in Bengaluru and of ‘Flame of the Forest’ from Siddapur in Uttara Kannada for over a decade. He preserves and germinates them in the right environment taking utmost care. He sets aside two hours daily to germinate seeds and nurture the saplings.
His mission doesn’t end there. He distributes the saplings to educational institutions and interested citizens free of cost, thereby motivating the public to grow flowering trees.
Over the past several years, Srikanta Raje Urs has studied about these exotic plants and has equipped himself with enough knowledge to create awareness among public about the need to conserve rare species of flowering trees.
“The seeds of these trees were earlier brought from several parts of the country. They are very hard and cannot be germinated easily. I discovered a technique by which 80 per cent of seeds can germinate within three days. The only thing is we have to nurture the trees for one rainy season and protect them from cattle,” he says.
Watering just once a week is enough while a mild pest control is needed. The lifespan of these trees is around 60 years and in some instances more than 100 years.
“Following urbanisation, we are losing the rare flowering trees of America, Colombia, Brazil, Thailand and Argentina. My desire is to plant trees along the roads approaching Mysuru, near Railway Line and also atop Chamundi Hill and in new layouts that are being developed.
We can further enhance the beauty of Mysuru with these flowering plants. This would also provide a great view if we see from atop Chamundi Hill,” he adds.
“My father D Nanjaraj Urs was a close associate of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, the king of Mysuru. My father used to talk about Wadiyars’ initiative. This inspired me to grow uncommon trees. I feel happy, when people, students inquire about native of plants, or they suitable for our climatic condition, their characters,’ he adds.
Know who planted the saplings
Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel, who visited Baroda for landscaping, came to Mysuru State in 1908 to render his service. During the period, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV entrusted him to plant the saplings of flowering trees. Nalwadi was very fond of nature and used to plant saplings of flowering and fruit bearing trees atop Chamundi hill and scatter seed during rain seasons.
Learning over that people in Mysuru are not much enthused about plants, compared to Bengaloreans, he decided to host flower shows and develop interest among populace about rare flowering plants. In Karnataka we can find rare trees only in Bengaluru, and couple of trees along Bengaluru-Mysuru Highway, and few in Mysuru.
An exclusive nursery is being developed inside Sri Vani Vilas Urs Girls High School to grow saplings. The progrmme is being patronised by Pramoda Devi Wadiyar. College students, staff, teachers are been engaged in Nursery, and the young minds are made aware of rare trees.
To plant large number of flowering plants in and around the city, the trust is planning to raise 2000 saplings by the next rainy season. Already 400 saplings to Mysuru City Corporation in July to be planted in parks.
Student Vanitha said: “We had no idea Mysuru once housed such rare flowering plants. By engaging in nursery activities we came to know about we were nurturing exotic plants, which are in extinct. I am planning to grow a plant in my own backyard at my house. Planting flowering trees will increase the beauty of the city.’
Economist Teacher Siddappa said: ‘Srikanta Raje Urs is very passionate to raise flowering trees, and his initiatives has made us to realilse what we have missed. The exotic flowering plants has to be protected and people have to be educated about this rare plants.’
Bharathi Sridhar Raje Urs, Vice President of the Trust said: ‘Our efforts at creating tree wealth should be strengthened by the Corporation by maintaining the trees. To compensate the adverse effects of axing trees, Corporation should start an urban tree nursery. There are also suggestions from experts that Bonsai gardening be adopted to trees lining roads and avenues to further enhance the beauty. We request the MCC to envisage a plan to make Mysore more beautiful and cleaner.’
The rare flowering trees in extinct at Mysuru
Colvillea Racemosa native of Madagascar
Colvillea Racemosa native of Madagascar
These trees were planted during the reign of Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in Albert Victor Road along with Cassia Spectabilis bearing yellow flowers and spathodea bearing red colour flowers. The blooms of these trees coincided with Dasara festivals. These trees are found in St Philomena’s College of Mysuru. It is our ardent wish that if these plants are planted on the route of Dasara procession more glamour would be added to the state festival, says DN Srikanta Raje Urs.
Jacaranda : Native of South America, Mexico, Central America
In Mysuru these plants were found in stretches of Shashadri Iyer Road known as Dewans Road. There were found on either sides of the road, bearing beautiful shapes of blue flowers, a refreshing sight in the blooming season. As Dewan’s Road developing as commercial road these trees disappeared. It is an avenue tree and called road side dream. We can sight this
trees rarely in Mysuru.
Cassia Fistula (Kakke Gida) known as golden showers is a native of Indian Sub Continent. It is the national tree of Thailand and its flower is Thailand’s National Flower. This only tree is found in Butterfuly Park in Karnaji Lake. This tree as medicicinal values and used in natural therapy.
Tabebuia Chrysantha originally from Colombia, Brazil and Bolavia are known as Golden Trumpet or golden Tabebuia. These trees can be found in Jaladarshini (2), Mysuru Palace (2), Metropole (1) and Kuppanna Park (1).
Tabebuia Avellaneda (Pink Trumpet Tree)
Tabebuia Avellanede tree with pink flowers are found in Manasagangotri campus and few areas in Mysuru. It is a small saturated tree with pink trumpet like flowers.
Cassia nodosa is found in Lalbagh, Bengaluru. While, Cassia White is found in a house in Vontikoppal, Mysuru. Cassia Javanica bearing pink flowers was earlier found in KR hospital.
(Courtesy: Flowers Pics from Internet)