More than three centuries old “ber” (jujube) trees in the Golden Temple complex — Dukhbhanjani Beri, Ber Baba Budha Sahib and Lachi Ber — bore a good quantum of fruits this season.
The heritage trees, wilting under the insect attack, were nurtured with the efforts of plant pathologists and horticulture experts of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, after their decade-long efforts. They inspected the “ber” trees frequently and adopted remedial measures to undo the damage.Plucking the fruit is not allowed.
The lucky ones collect the ones that fall down as “parshad”. The “ber” tree is known to live for 100 years, but the trees in the Golden Temple have lived three times the recorded lifespan. Narinder Pal Singh, senior District Extension Specialist (farm management), said he had been associated with the preservation of the rare heritage trees under the PAU’ s Farm Advisory Service Scheme since 2005.
Later, he was joined by Dr Jaswinder Singh Brar of the Department of Fruit Science and other experts.All “ber” trees, including the three historical ones, had a normal “fruiting” process this season, with Ber Baba Budha Sahib bearing the most fruits. The process, however, is monitored as excess of fruits can diminish the nutrient level in the long run.“The significant part is that the trees have been preserved for three centuries.
Every year, we do the nutrient analysis of the trees. Leaf samples are collected to check for nutrient imbalance, if any,” he said.After monitoring the tress, an advisory is issued to the SGPC for the upkeep of the trees. The PAU team got thick layers of concrete and marble removed so that the tress got space, air and a proper root zone.
Otherwise, it could have led to wilting of the stem or drying of leaves. At Budha Sahib Beri, supposed to be the oldest one though there’s no scientific proof of its age, wooden and iron planks have been fixed for support. This has been done so that the stem should not be damaged.
Also, arrangements have been made for a minimum “human touch”.Devotees are advised not to touch the trees with ghee-smeared hands. They are also desisted from adorning the trees with flowers or floral garlands. “Flowers attract insects when they get decomposed. The insects, in turn, damage the bark and the wood,” Narinder Pal said.