It was May, and rains had transformed our landscape into lush greenery. That afternoon was prickly hot and humid, but me and my teenage son were lazing on a cool boulder under the shade of Acacia tree. My son spotted something only a child can see and pointed at the curious creation. From where I was lazing it looked like a face with eighties hairdo.
Lord behold, it was stone-faced Chitti! This writing is about Chitti's hairdo, so focus more on hair and less on the stone face.
The vine that is creating the hairdo is locally called Onaan Kodi; its scientific name is Ipomoea staphylina. I spent some time researching and after scraping the bottom of the Internet found enough information for this writing.
If you thought the Internet is a bottomless pit, try searching Onaan Kodi you will understand what I mean. When this happens dismayed Kannadigas would say Adela Okay, Onaan Kodi yake. In English, it merely means why bother about Internet bottom dwellers when we have Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone?
For one, god sent Chitti to my farm for a reason. If that is not good enough reason then here is the pragmatic one; this stubborn weed is all over us. If you stand still long enough, you may stand a chance of this creeper growing all over you.
These creeper or runners or climbers however you want to call them are seriously long. Here is the measure of one of them that I randomly picked.
This one measured 19M! and it was not even competing for Mr Palacode.
I hear from locals that the only way to get rid this is uprooting and destroying. Uprooted plants show a sack that I think is where the magic portion is stored that allows these plants to rapidly grow and colonize. The speed at which this creeper grows makes me think Getafix (Asterix fame) might be extracting a magic portion from creepers like these.
I have noticed locals use these creepers as an alternative to the rope.
When these fibrous creepers are intertwined, I heard they make up one strong rope that honey harvesters trust their lives on as they reach the edge of cliffs.
During the research I read that tribals use the latex or sap from the plant to treat cracked feet while locals see it as a nuisance.
We are letting this nuisance spread on exposed places like lake bunts and experimenting with green manure potential. Until something useful comes up these plants are providing the shelter for small living creatures and preventing soil erosion that itself is an essential purpose served.
Everyone is here for a reason, we just have to understand and adjust.