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Vol. XXVIII No. 6, July 1-15, 2018

Once tree-rich

Page 8-1

Ficus krishnae.

How not to maintain educational campuses (MM, June 16th, 2018) offered depressing reading. As an alumnus of Madras Presidency College, I felt all the more dejected.

While I deliberately restrict myself from making any comments, I wish to bring to the attention of the authorities of Madras Presidency College that the late G. Masilamani, who taught botany there, had planted one of the rare and endangered species of the Krishna fig (Ficus krishnae, aka Ficus benghalensis var. krishnae, Moraceae), a native fig of India, which produces unique cup-shaped leaves.

Page 8-2

Australian golden vine.

When the late J. Ramachandran (JR), a passionate plant lover, was the Principal, he maintained many beautiful and colourful trees in the gardens of Madras Presidency College. After retirement, JR was, for a while, the President of Madras Agri-Horticultural Society. Thanks to his untiring efforts, a greenhouse with many rare (‘rare’ in Madras) plants and ferns used to be maintained along the footpath leading to the Principal’s house behind. I am not sure if these are still there. I vividly remember the bright yellow-flowered Australasian golden vine (Tristellateia australasiae, Malpighiaceae), a woody creeper growing on the latticed roof of the greenhouse.

The last occasion I went to the Botany Department of MPC, probably 10 years ago, I was appalled to see the condition of the herbarium, which was established by Philip Furley Fyson, and further built up by Mandayam O. Parthasarathy Iyengar, Todla Ekambaram, and Bangalore G.L. Swamy. This herbarium had its international reputation as a research facility, listed in international catalogues as Herbarium Collegii Presidentiae Madrasensis (H.C.P.M.). Not sure whether this facility maintains the same reputation and glory.

Anantanarayanan Raman

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