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Camel connection

Botanizing in the rural environs of Udvada, I came across a rare, curious looking plant. We asked the local women what the vernacular name of the plant was. Expecting the usual answer, "We do not know,” we were surprised when they replied that it was javalo. Later on, referring to the flora listing of the species to find out its botanical identity, we learnt that the common English name of javalo was camel’s thorn and its botanical name is alhagi camelorum, since it was the favorite fodder of the camel. Now, let me put two and two together. Common belief is that the name Udvada was derived from unt-wada, the place where the Raja of Mandvi maintained his herd of camels. It is likely that the camel’s thorn plant was introduced in Udvada in those days to serve as camel feed, and the plant we had come across was a remnant of the once largely grown population of javalo. The fact that the villagers could recognize the plant with its local name points to the age-old link of the species with the history of the place. Dr V. M. MEHER-HOMJI ...



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