Dukhbhanjani Beri flummoxes scientists, clones prepared Written by WSN Network Thursday, March 15, 2007 AMRITSAR:It is not just a tree. For millions, it is an object of faith. But at the end of the day, it is also a tree. The evergreen Dukhbhanjani Beri, its branches preening into the waters of the sarovar at the Harmandar Sahib in Amritsar since centuries, has now caught the fancy of forest scientists, who have not only produced its clones but are also undertaking a DNA study to see what makes it so resistant to vagaries of time. The plant appears much older than the chronicled history of the common ber (Ziziphus jujuba) —the tree that bears the small sweet-sour fruit that is a favourite of kids across the subcontinent and finds common mention in folk literature. Many believe it possesses miraculous powers, many collect the leaves or the fruits that drop down, and most touch it and bow before it. Under normal circumstances, beri plants need regular manuring, pruning and pest control, but the Dukhbhanjani Beri is surviving on without any such care. Historians believe that all three beri plants on the Harmandar Sahib premises — the Lachi Ber, Dukhbhanjani Ber and Ber Baba Budha Ji — were there before the shrine was raised. Branch cuttings from the sacred plant were brought from Amritsar some time back to the Forest Research and Training Centre at Hoshiarpur. which raised saplings from those and handed them over to the Genetics Division of the Indian Council of Forest Research and Education (JCFRE), Dehradun.Scientists have prepared clones of the plant using the rooting system of multiplication and now DNA fingerprinting is being done to identify its characteristics and see if it differs from common ber plants. The beri, or the Indian jujube, is a native of the Yunnan province in southern China, Malaysia and Australia. In India, there are about 90 varieties of this plant which have the ability to withstand water-logging as well as drought, but the one under study has shown exceptional resistance. Demands for the cloned plants have started pouring in. Ten clones are ready and under observation in Dehradun and at least one will be sent to the gurdwara at Hazoor Sahib in Nanded .