Prosopis juliflora is an invasive species. Also called as Cheemai Karuvel (சீமைக்கருவேலை) or Veli Kathan in Tamil, Mullu tumma in Telugu, Bellari Jaali in Kannada and Angaraji Babul in North India. Acres and acres of non-farming lands are occupied in India by this one species. Sometimes i have seen this in my entire train journey through the window. Growing upto 12 feet, it reproduces through Pods, hundreds of seeds per tree. The roots go deeper (Record 53 meters or 175 feet) and drain underground water. The thorny bushes block shrinklands and block passages.
|Courtesy : CopalIndia|
From a distance, the land would look fertile dotted with light green trees of these variety. Closer look will give only disappointment. All over the world these trees are in aboundance. Some people say this was spread from airplane during burma war. But there is no story to prove this conspiracy.
Back home especially near my native place and in my farm also this is all pervasive. (Hence this article). This is the one and only species found in many places. Every farmer has to clear this if he needs to reclaim the land. I myself have spent over 40,000/- to remove these using JCB. I donot know how many crores have been wasted on this species by all farmers.
The best form of this invasive species management is prevention. Kenya has declared this as invasive species. Entire Africa is suffering. Small plants have to be weeded out by hand. I donot think this is worthy of consideration even for fire wood. The handling is difficult due to thorns and each plant consumes space and water. My neighbour farmer would not allow me to cut these from my border areas still. He is a laid back farmer who have been enjoying firewood from these whenever he wanted from even across other other’s land. I thinks some birds like to build nests because of the protection it gives. But it is rare. May be for this one or two can be spared here and there. These plants were found by me in TN, Andhra, Maharashtra, Gujarat – everywhere.