Agasthya 6.2 Wait-a-While or I will make you do so
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Centre for Excellence in Conservation Science
Royal Enclave,Srirampura,Jakkur Post
Telephone: 080-23635555 (EPABX)
Fax : 080- 23530070

“I am really worried….we are lost”.

“Don't worry, we will find our way… probably…”.

“Who is that, CHIYAAAAN? YEAAAAAH, we are saved........” and then it stuck.

Eventually, the person who was so elated had to WAIT-A-WHILE, before she could savour the presence of the saviour (our field assistant, Chiyan). This was just a glimpse of one of the several incidents that occurred while trekking through the forest of KMTR.

KMTR, a vast expanse of tropical rainforest at the southernmost tip of mainland India, nurtures a wide variety of endemic biodiversity. While roaming through this pristine forest one frequently encounters a notorious spiny vine, Wait-a-While (Calamus sp). During our trek, it was impossible to romp through, as it ripped our clothes and often got tucked into the flesh sturdily. Thus we were bound to learn the art of removing it, in the true sense, by waiting for a while.

Calamus sp. also known as “Lawyer cane” or “Hairy Mary” is a climber belonging to the palm family (Arecaceae), found commonly in the Tropical rainforests. It bears spines on leaves, stalk and also on the long whip-like flagella. The curved hooks get badly stuck on people's clothing or bare skin, giving it the name.

A little probing on why such hideous structures exist opens up the interesting field of battle between plants and animals. The spinescence of the plant may be a constitutive mechanical defence to ward off herbivores. This is an outcome of the evolutionary arms race continuing for eons between the prey (plants) and their predators (herbivores). Though it seems to be an impenetrable barrier, herbivores often come up with unique strategies to evade the spines and enjoy the juicy parts. The recurved hooks of the vine might also help the plant to climb higher up in the rainforest in search of light. So, next time when one gets stuck into the spiny palm, while untangling one should think of themselves as a collateral damage of this on-going 'war of the worlds'.



Editorial Team
Editor: Allwin Jesudasan
Associate editor: Rajkamal Goswami
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh
Design and presentation: Kiran Salagame

Volume 6,  Issue 2
      April 2012

A S H O K A   T R U S T   F O R   R E S E A R C H   I N   E C O L O G Y   A N D   T H E   E N V I R O N M E N T

Wait-a-While or I will make you do so
- Ronita Mukherjee
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