India is home to some of the most sacred trees. In 1968, an enlightened woman known as ‘The Mother’ stumbled upon an ancient Banyan tree and it the center of the universe. And there is a lot of truth in her words, while standing under this tree one cannot help feeling at peace with the world, it is a magestic site. However, no matter how sacred it might be to the locals, we stumbled upon another whose presence in the region is just as miraculous.
It is widely stated that the Ilex paraguarinesis is one of the rare plants which grows only in it’s native region, of South America. We had never heard of a Mate tree existing outside of this continent and were curious when we were informed that there was one in the Botanical Garden in Auroville in Southern India.
After some research, we discovered that on June 5, 1922, D.S. Bullock the commissioner from the USDA presented a 2 month old Mate sapling to India which originated from the Argentinean Missiones Area. It remains unclear whether there is a relationship between this first Indian Ilex and the tree that is in Auroville, however, the shiny dark green leaves from this erveira strongly resemble those small leaves that are normally harvested for Argentinean Yerba Mate.
India is a lonely place for a Mate drinker – and drinking a cold terere under this special mate tree was a memorable experience. The culture that is revered for many of it’s wise traditions will hopefully one day be able to embrace the Guarani tradition in the same way that its soil has nurtured Ilex’s Indian Incarnation.