Only four of these rare trees, popularly known as branching palms, remain in the city. They are found in an open plot between buildings A and B at Godrej Baug in Hanging Gardens.
But they may cease to exist if the Bombay Parsi Panchayat allows construction on the land.
“The panchayat is contemplating a highrise. If this happens, the land will be cleared of these palms,” said Zorus Sahukar, a resident of building B.
Says V A Rode, agro-horticulturist and landscape consultant, “There are only two species of branching palms found in Asia and one of them is in Mumbai. The species here needs to be protected as it is on the verge of extinction.”
Parsis have planted these trees to attract vultures. Says Mari Manekshaw, resident of building A, “Vultures are important to us because they are an integral part of our funeral.”
He added, “Since many of these palms were indiscriminately felled, no vultures visit us anymore.”
Fearing that this rare palm may be lost forever, residents have dashed off letters to the ward officer of D-ward, officials at Malabar Hill Police and superintendent of gardens, Byculla zoo.
“Even though there has been no response from their end, we hope the trees will be spared,” says Sahukar.
The trustees of the Panchayat were tight-lipped over the issue, but one of them, on condition of anonymity, said, “Some building activity will certainly commence on the plot in the near future and we are still undecided on the palms.”