Beware! Delhi University’s ‘beer tree’ may be diseased, warn experts | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Beware! Delhi University’s ‘beer tree’ may be diseased, warn experts

If scratched violently, a tree should normally secrete between 10ml and 20ml of liquid. About 10 litres in a day is clearly abnormal.

delhi Updated: Mar 23, 2017 13:55 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Neem beer
The neem tree in Delhi University’s North Campus that excreting a fluid that people suspect to be toddy.(Saumya Khandelwal/Hindustan Times)

It may not be a good idea to drink the white fluid bleeding from the cracks of a neem tree on Delhi University’s north campus it is most likely suffering from a bacterial infection, say experts.

“This is not a normal phenomenon. If it were normal, then other trees would be secreting the same liquid. This particular tree is diseased and needs treatment,” said Dr MM Padhi.

Padhi is a researcher with the ministry of ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy (Ayush).

If scratched violently, a tree should normally secrete between 10ml and 20ml of liquid. About 10 litres in a day is clearly abnormal.

Many people, mostly labourers working in the university, queue up with containers near the freak neem tree that has been bleeding this white frothy liquid since November 2016.

It smells of toddy (naturally alcoholic sap of palm) and tastes somewhat bitter. But people from the campus and outside say it is intoxicating.

However, Padhi explains that this is not something unheard of; and similar incidents have been reported from other states in the past.

The white fluid is also known as alcoholic flux. The germs that multiply within the cracks ferment the sap, releasing alcohol and gasses.

Pressure from the gasses builds inside the tree, eventually forcing white frothy liquid through the cracked bark. The froth is known to have a slightly yeasty odour.

“The liquid has yeasty texture because the bacteria ferment the sap. The liquid, if tested, could have anti-fungal properties but that does not mean it can be had raw straight from the tree. It needs processing before its medicinal properties are made use of,” said Dr Padhi.

Also, the fact that out of some 15-odd neem trees near the rugby stadium towards the back end of the campus, only one tree is giving out sap is hint enough that the tree could be diseased.