To learn about the amazing world of diversity, field trips are truly essential. A visit to a place of valuable diversity fosters curiosity in our minds. Recently, I got a chance to visit Tropical Institute of Ecological Sciences (TIES), Kottayam, as a part of our field study programme. It was a cloudy day but the environment of the Institute was so pleasing .We completed the registration process and then moved to the conference hall. Conference hall was a splendid example of eco-friendly construction.
We had a small session on environmental awareness by Dr. Punnen Kurian. Throughout the session he motivated us to conserve biodiversity .He reminded us of richness of biodiversity in Kerala, by emphasising on the fact that Kerala is the “Sanctum Sanctorum of Tropics” as far as biodiversity is concerned. He also expressed his concerns over the loss of biological diversity due to anthropogenic interventions. He urged us to respect all life-forms and to live in harmony with nature.
After the session, we were guided to every location in and outside the Institute. First, we were guided to the library hall that contained the hard copies of thesis of PhD works carried out at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam. We were led to the reading room as well.
Then we were taken to some of the laboratories inside the institute. We were given brief explanations on the functioning and uses of Laminar Air Flow (LAF) chamber, Hot Air Oven etc. among many others. A vivid explanation on bio-fertilisers, their uses, application etc. was given. The use of Spectrophotometer was also explained.
An effective model of water conservation was yet another significant attraction at the Institute. Rain water filters are established here. Water collected from rains, is filtered efficiently and is collected in a tank ,which is used for various purposes.
Various composting techniques were also introduced to us. Pot compost, Kambha, pipe compost etc. were the major types of composting. Vermicomposting is an eco-friendly technique and produces no harm to nature in any manner. Kambha denotes composting done using kitchen wastes.
- MEDICINAL PLANTS GARDEN
One of the most attractive places of the institute is the medicinal plants garden, which houses a large number of plants of medicinal value. Some of them are:-
- Neem/Persian Lilac (Azadirachta indica):
Neem leaf is used for leprosy, eye disorders,intestinal worms, stomach upset, loss of appattite, skin ulcers, diabetes etc.
- Long pepper (Piper longum):
Used to improve appetite and digestion as well as treat stomach ache heart burn diarrhea and cholera.
- Pig weed (Boerhavia diffusa):
Good for blood purification ,good eye sight,cure cataract and myopia.
- Holy Basil/Sacred Basil (Ocimum sanctum):
It helps relieve fromvarious kinds of fevers including malaria and dengue;reduce cholesterol level.
- Praying plant (Desmodium gyrans):
The decoction prepared by the root is very effective against snake poison
- Desmodium (Desmodium gangeticum):
This is best used to treat heart ailments and is included in the medical group Dasamoolam
- Coleus (Coleus vettiveroides):
Its leaf juice is mixed with honey to treat Diarrhoea and abdominal disturbances.
- Ayapana (Eupatorium ayapana):
It can be used as an antiseptic.It can heal wounds. It calms coughs. It prevents ulcers.
- Devil Bean (Crotalaria retusa):
A decoction of the flowers and leaves is used to soothe a cold.
- Malabar Glory Lily (Gloriosa superba):
It has been used in the treatment of snake-bite, ulcers, cholera, kidney problems, small pox etc.
- Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum):
It is used internally for indigestion, nausea, vomiting etc.
- Red sandal (Pterocarpus santalinus):
It is used for treating digestive tract problems. Used in skin care.
A large number of medicinal plants are grown in the garden, each having a label carrying the name(both common name as well as scientific name).Different plants have diverse medicinal properties. They can be used to cure different diseases in humans. Medicinal plants garden at TIES is an abode of our traditional medicinal plants.
- SOME OTHER PLANT SPECIES IN THE GARDEN :
Many other plants were found at this garden, which includes Ziziphus plant (Ziziphus trinervia) , Spinous Kino tree (Bridelia retusa) and Pala indigo (Wrightia tinctoria).
Many species of wild orchids can be seen at TIES garden. Nearly 20 types of orchids can be found here. Another important thing to note is that there are nearly 17 species of bamboos in the garden around the campus. Indian thorny bamboo (Bambusa bambosa) and Siroshima bamboo (Hibanobambusa tranquilans) are the most important ones among them.
Many species of herbs, shrubs and trees constitute the floral diversity of the garden around the TIES campus.
Large number of herbs, shrubs and trees provide home to variety of living beings. The garden has a wide range of insects. Large number of butterflies can be seen in the area. Plants that attract butterflies are grown abundantly in the area.
Small cages are placed in the garden in which different species are placed. Silkie chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus var.) is kept in a clean and tidy cage. Different species of doves and other birds are also kept in separate cages located in various areas of the garden.
After visiting all places at the Institute, we left the campus in the evening. A day at TIES was a marvellous experience which helped us to enhance our knowledgeon flora as well as fauna of the area.