Freeloaders, we all hate them, don’t we? Living off the produce of their more able counterparts and gradually sucking the life out of them; this is their life’s work. But it is not just us humans who find them a burden, plants also have their own kind of freeloader - the Cuscuta parasite.
Commonly called the Amarbel, it is threatening the greenery in Dwarka. Its effect can be easily seen in Sectors 12, 10, 22, 23, 20, 8, 18 and 19. City Spidey found that plants with new leaves and shrubs on the roadsides have been attacked by parasites. Trees, particularly ornamental plants, on road dividers are also afflicted with Amarbel.
Vijay Dhasmana, naturalist and ecological conservator associated with Gurgaon Biodiversity Park, says, “Cuscuta is a dangerous parasitic plant which not only mars the beauty of greenery but also kills plants. The horticulture department should remove them manually as soon as they are spotted on plants.” He adds, “Such parasites spread from one tree to another by carriers like birds. They stick to bird’s excreta and reach branches of trees where they replicate. These plants look like green threads and mainly affect plants in arid areas.”
Morning walkers and nature lovers have been witnessing its growth for quite sometime now. SS Mann, vice-president of Sukh Dukh Ke Saathi (a social group), says, “I have noticed parasites on the vegetation in front of Bharat Vandana project area and on the shrubs on the roadside in Sector 22.”
The trees near KM Chowk (Sector 7 Extension, Pocket 4, Sector 12) area and the Bensup Hospital (Sector 12) have also been affected. “The effect is worse in Sector 12. I have been going for morning walks for the last five years and I must say that the Cuscuta growth is most prominent this year. DDA should seriously look into it,” says T Sampat Kumar, a resident of Sector 12.
The Cuscuta can be seen in societies in DDA (Sector 22 Pocket 1), DDA flats (Sector 12), the parks in Sector 10 and Sector 14, and near the major roads of the city.
Seema Singh, a resident of Sector 14, says, “DDA horticulture officials seem to be taking the issue a bit casually. Though it takes some time before the affected plants die, DDA should remove such parasites in the early stage itself. After pruning shrubs on the dividers, DDA officials seem to disappear for the next six to seven months. The horticulture department should do something about it to save the greenery around us.”
Prem Chand, deputy director of horticulture, DDA, says “Cuscuta completely destroys the plant. It spreads very fast and therefore even a small piece is enough to destroy a plant completely. We are aware of the problem and I have directed the concerned officials to remove Amarbel completely. I want to appeal to the residents that they keep an eye out for Cuscata growth in their neighbourhood and help curb its growth.”
Dwarks sure seems to be pulling up its sleeves to root out this unwanted guest. Let’s hope it addresses the issue in time and preserves its green cover!