Surat: The watering hole of Gujarat in the union territory of Daman is not just the destination for wines, beers, and whiskey. Daman, along with Diu are the only places in India, where one can find the rare tree variety known as ‘Hokka Trees’.
Hokka trees are the rare type of African Hoka branching palm trees, which are known as Hokka or Hyphaene Indica. They are not found anywhere else in India, except in Diu and a few in Daman. The Hokka tree can be easily identified from their appearance as they grow with two to three spikes arising from each branchlet that no other tree bears in the world.
These trees were brought into India by the Portuguese during their regime over Daman, Diu, Goa, and DNH from 1510 to 1961. They are found in abundance in Diu. The fruit of this tree has a lovely appearance and color and is edible. The Hokka tree is believed to possess medicinal properties and can cure certain rare diseases found in humans.
The Hokka Tree is also known as Doum Palm is a dioecious palm and grows up to 55 to 60 feet high. The trunk, which can have a girth of up to 35 Inches branches dichotomously and has tufts of large leaves at the end of the branches. The bark is fairly smooth, dark grey, and bears the scars of fallen leaves.
The petioles (leaf stalks) are about a meter long, sheathing the branch at the base and armed with stout upward-curving claws. The leaves are fan-shaped and measure about 5 to 7 inches. Male and female flowers are produced on separate trees. The inflorescences are similar in general appearance, up to about 4 feet long, branching irregularly and with two or three spikes arising from each branchlet.
Female trees produce large woody fruits, each containing a single seed, that remain on the tree for a long period. Its fruits are being sold on sea beaches in Diu.
(This story was submitted to TBT by KC Sethi, poet, writer, and author from Daman)