India insists: Obama's tree at Rajghat is not dead, it just looks dead

  • AP, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 20, 2015 16:55 IST

Officials in India want to make one thing clear: The tree that President Barack Obama planted in New Delhi three weeks ago is not dead. It just looks dead.

The peepal tree was awash in leaves when Obama planted it at the New Delhi memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. By Thursday, though, it was just a single lonely stem.

That lack of leaves has been giving Indian officials sleepless nights, with the media in New Delhi blasting them for allowing the tree to die less than a month after the presidential visit.

But the reality: Peepal trees often lose their leaves this time of year.

"It's a seasonal phenomenon," BC Katiyar, a top regional government horticulturist, said on Thursday, after he and other officials visited the tree and pronounced it in good health. "It will send out shoots within the next 10 days."

The peepal, or ficus religiosa, is seen as holy by many in Asia - the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment under the tree in 589 BC.

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