Autorickshaw drivers at Lady Hill Circle don’t sweat over the rising mercury in the city. They opt to rest under the canopy of Singapore cherry trees, which they planted four years ago at the stand there.
Autorickshaw drivers at A.B. Shetty Circle may have to wait longer for the luxury, for they have planted two saplings of Singapore cherry (Muntingia calabura) only four months ago in front of their auto rickshaw stand. Water dripping from plastic bottles with small holes in them helps the plants to take deeper roots. In this fashion, they water them daily. After the first summer, the plant needs no more watering, said Cliffard Lobo, Range Forest Officer, Mangalore Range.
The five cherry trees at the Lady Hill Circle stand are planted by the members of ‘autorickshaw chalaka mitraru’ which is a 60-member group of autorickshaw drivers.
Drivers Ashok, Sridhar and Madhav at the Lady Hill Circle stand said that many birds enjoy eating cherry fruits now. “Many ‘kogiles’ (cuckoo) come to the trees and some have even nested here. We primarily planted them for shade for ourselves. Not only birds, children also enjoy eating cherry fruits now,” said Mr. Sridhar. “We realise their importance when taking rest under their canopy in hot sun,” a driver said.
In addition to the cherry, the drivers at the Lady Hill Circle stand have planted two badam trees (Indian badam tree) and a butter fruit tree more than five years ago.
The drivers have planted a mango sapling at the stand. Mr. Sridhar said some drivers at Urwa Market stand have also planted cherry trees.
Mr. Lobo, the Range Forest Officer, said that the Forest Department planted 150 Singapore cherry plants in different places in the city two years ago. Of them, 40 plants were planted on the periphery of Nehru Maidan.
The maximum lifespan of a Singapore cherry plant is up to 20 years.