Written by Catherine McLean, CNN Environment Correspondent
India has begun to address dangerous, incense-smelling cow parsnip in some of its cities, after some Indian states recently began to ban the shrub.
The first state to completely ban the sap from the herb, the Indian state of Haryana is known to have its own parrot, Gulraj, that is extremely fond of the bark. So this herb is also a bit of a pet for locals who wake up to the smell of the sap every morning before they step out on their daily walk.
But the sap itself is also extremely dangerous. When ingested, the cankerous sap from the parsnip has been known to cause blindness, drowsiness, coma and even death.
The sap is extremely dangerous. But the bark can only be sold to children and open-minded people.
Citrus trees can also contain the sap which is concentrated and has found a home in humid regions, where the soil is rich in minerals. In the UK, the tree has been banned for years due to its inherent health risks, but thanks to the popularity of Persian couscous in parts of the country, the vegetable is still available to Brits from the Middle East and through a number of Indian countries.
Where are they coming from?
The source of the most dangerous versions of the leaf tree, however, is still a mystery. While some well-documented stories have mentioned the husk of a Moroccan bird as a possible source, little is currently known about this potential poison.
From poor farming practices to the fact that the concentrated sap can be difficult to clean up, problems plaguing the Parsi people of North India are many. Parsis are a Muslim minority who, while formerly part of Hinduism, retain their own religious beliefs.
Heres a popular Indian parrot. From the powder, he transforms into a parrot. But probably not in the way you think.
The majority of Parsis live in Gujarat and are part of the second most populated Hindu community in the world. In England, most people are Christian or Muslim, but in India, Muslim Parsis are the second most populous minority group and their number is rapidly growing.
According to 2017 census data, Mumbai (ex: India’s commercial and financial capital) has the largest Parsi population in the world at 65,000. The largest number is found in Gujarat, the state where the Parsi sacred cow parsnip (lakhambhagdha) is grown. It can be found across the lower part of India in its most common form, which has not been banned.
In 2018, Gujarat’s chief minister Vijay Rupani announced that a ban would be imposed on the sale of the cankerous leaf plant from the halal gardens, farm shops and a number of hotels.
However, in a statement by the Gujarat government, officials insisted the ban has already been in place, as no Parsi can legally possess the plant in the first place.
‘Dear cow’ powder ban only affects some
India’s health ministry announced in October that the decision was made after they discovered there were chemicals in the ash which linked back to cow parsnip.
“It was found that the curative powder used in preparations is also used in pesticides, and there is a strong possibility that chemicals from cattle waste are being used as a material for farming,” Indian Health Minister J.P. Nadda said in the statement at the time.
A ban on chakdha, the traditional religious substance used by Hindus to pray to the cows, has had a similar impact across India. After a government ban on lakhambhagdha, clerics like Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray banned it altogether.