Has she ever wished for limbs of her own to stand on her feet? Has she ever yearned to enjoy the status of the Jasmine creeper that hugs and snakes up the Mango tree, who is her host tree too? She’s looked down as a pest where as the Jasmine plant has inspired many acclaimed poets. Has she wanted to leave her grip and jump down from the tree trunk that shoulders her unwillingly? Though her host never expressed it, at times he would have got irritated with her existence and wanted to shake her off…
Infamous for being a hemiparasite, stealing minerals and water from the host tree, she has become synonymous with a parasite, a bloodsucker. Any person dependent on someone and thriving on somebody else’s expenses is called an Ithikkanni or Ithilkanni in Malayalam. It’s her woe that though she belongs to the Mistletoe family, no lovers are going to stand beneath her and kiss! She’s not the Christmas Mistletoe; she’s just a hemiparasite. Neither her blooms that she’s so proud of are considered beautiful, nor her medicinal properties are taken in to consideration…yes, a day would come when Man would look for her to treat all his nerve problems due to the electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and towers. No one talks how she’s used in Ayurveda, helping to cure many diseases. Still people call her ‘Vriksha bhaksha’, the one who swallows the tree!! Then what is the apt word to call Man who uproots the trees from the face of the earth!
[Loranthus ( Ithikanni as we call it in our language Malayalam) is a hemiparasite plant that usually grows on Mango trees. It belongs to the Loranthaceae family]