Forest trails and untold stories: Mansur shrub, Landour, Mussoorie

Every step I take towards exploring the wilderness in the nature and forest, fills me with enchantment to ken many unfolded stories. Each rock, each pebble, each flower, each plant and their association with different life forms must have a distinct story to tell. Stories which will never be heard of, some lost stories and some stories in the making. Sometimes I wonder, it would have been a different world altogether, if only, the trees, the wild and rocks could speak. Maybe, then they would not have been extinct.

©Mansur berry flowers, Landour, Mussoorie

With these thoughts, I usually get involved in observing the plant types and the hillside which are mostly in full bloom due to the spring – summer season. A few steps further, I was astonished to see a bush covered with little red flowers. I wondered, is it the same plant, that the hill station of Mussoorie got its name from? I went closer to this shrub to have a look into its botanical components and found that it is indeed Masuri Berry. Masuri Berry is a large hairless shrub, 3-4 m tall, with arching redish-brown branches.

©Mansur shrub (Coriaria nepalensis)

The Mansur shrub (Coriaria nepalensis), which once grew in abundance in the hills of Mussoorie and Landour and after which the town was named, is now fading from its landscape and from memories of its residents. During my visits to the forest trails along hillside, I came across very few Mansur berry shrub. The plant once abundant is now under threat. The hillside once flourished with pristine biodiversity, is now facing the wrath of anthropogenic stress. Weeds species are taking over the primary ecofloral diversity is also affecting microbiota of the hillside. The web of life is interconnected and change in one diaspora has affect on another. Once again the thought, if only the plants could speak, they would not have been extinct knocked my mind.

© A Forest trail

The less travelled forest trails are filled with moss and algae sometimes making the pathways bit slippery. The fallen Oak leaves and Pine needles litter makes it more slippery than ever. The season of forest fire is also near. If only, the leaf litter could tell forest fire to take some other course, because, the woodpecker has made his nest on the bole of tallest Pine tree, where its hatchlings are resting. Woodpeckers love making tree holes with their little but strong beaks in the high forest of Pine trees in the hillside.

©Woodpecker on Pine tree trunk, making tree hollow

Red Rhodendrons luring bees, insects, birds and langurs also enlightened humans. Red the colour of love and passion spreads it’s velvety blanket over the hillside during the season of fertility and new life. Without saying a word, these mighty Rhododendron trees must have witnessed multiple generations of creations passing by. The ferns on the forest floor fanning out to catch filtered sunrays through the thick canopy.

Few steps ahead, I found a pile of rocks and debris on the trail due the heavy rainfall last season. I thought of taking my steps back, but something kept me going. Found my way through loose rocks, I moved further to witness many more untold stories of nature.


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Published by Dr. Chandrima Debi

Hi, I am Chandrima Debi. I am a Doctorate in Forestry and an independent researcher. Ever since childhood, I experienced deep-rooted connection with nature, forest and wildlife. I have written various research articles, case studies based on geology, forests, medicinal plants, biodiversity and conservation. Through this blog I share my experiences with nature and forests around us and aid towards the protection and conservation of biodiversity, wildlife and the values associated.

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