On Ugadi, in every Telugu household, ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ is a popular sweet dish consumed. Prepared using tamarind, raw mango, and jaggery, the recipe’s chief ingredients are flowers from the neem tree. For many Telugus in Hyderabad, unfortunately, finding neem tree, bearing flowers, is a daunting task.
Neem, an evergreen tree species, known for its medicinal properties, was available all over Hyderabad until a few years ago. Their numbers, however, have come down drastically. For example, the Nimboli adda near Kachiguda which got its name supposedly for being home to many neem trees currently does have just a couple of young neem trees now and on top of that flower-bearing trees are a rarity.
Apart from deforestation, one reason behind the decline in the number of neem trees is the infestation of a parasite creeper called Honey Suckle Mistletoe or Loranthus. The parasitic creeper anchors itself onto the branches of neem trees weakening the host by sucking water and nutrients directly from them.
Control measures against the parasite are imperative, to safeguard the neem trees. In the early stages of infestation, The creepers must be removed or they should be sawn off from the branches of their host. It has been admitted by the GHMC that the dwindling number of neem trees in Hyderabad is a cause of concern and along with the HMDA, as part of the Telangana Ku Haritha Haram program they are taking up plantation of neem saplings.