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KaalaHissar, the Blackberry

One wonder wild berry with lots of goodies is the Blackberry, locally known as KaalaHissar in the mountains. Apart from the juicy sweet berries that ripe during July-August, the Blackberry shrub is of high medicinal value right from the root till the tip of the leaf. Blackberry (RubusFructicosus) is a perennial shrub and can be seen around moist shady slopes all over the mountains. The shrub has a cluster of stems which are not thicker than a ladyfinger but are very strong and thorny. It is adorned with tiny pinkish white flowers during the month of June and homes nests of the Bush Thrush. The leaves are a good source of vitamin C and are rich in organic acids. Mothers in the mountains have been using dried leaves boiled in water to cure diarrhea and stomach inflammations caused due to summer heat and eating disorders. The same solution is also beneficial for curing mouth and throat inflammations. The berry itself, which turns red to black when ripe, is a rich gulp of vitamin C and is an antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal.

It is a favorite among the children and the birds of the mountains. The womenfolk also enjoy the berry as an energy munch while working in the terraced fields and collecting fodder in the jungle. The kaalaHissar has found its place in the folk song of Uttarakhand as well. The root of the KaalaHissar is a hot favorite among men folk of the hills for very obvious reason, it is a vital ingredient in the preparation of the high energy homemade wine which is a very good appetizer and digestive agent and gives a very mellow high. The roots are boiled in water with other ingredients and the evaporation process ignites the temptation drop by drop. Blackberry, being a thorny shrub, is also used in the fencing of the front yard and the back yard kitchen gardens. Unlike its cousin the Raspberry which grows in summer and is soon looted by the children and the birds, the blackberry is less exploited one owing to heavy rain spells, thick fog cover and over growth of the ground vegetation which is frequented by the small, shy and absolutely harmless snakes and leeches. But one who dare gets its share. So whenever you are walking around the roads of Mussoorie in monsoon, just be a little observant and scan through the bushes alongside. You will surly spot a shrub or two with juicy KaalaHissar which you deserve to munch on.