Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Endangered species esp. plants and animals (ii) impact of overuse of chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides, & pest controls on our lives (iii) wild-life of Pakistan and (iv) other interesting notes about the environmental issues again relevant to Pakistan.

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Hamad Ahmed Kisana
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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by Hamad Ahmed Kisana » November 11th, 2013, 7:19 pm

i have seen sufaida seedlings growing wild although your point is valid that there are no seedlings under plant.

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by mikhurram » November 14th, 2013, 7:43 pm

Acacia Farnesiana known as wilayti kikar is found in our hilly areas. Turns out that this is not a native tree of Pakistan and was introduced here in either the 50's or 60's. The following was mentioned about this tree in quotes on the url mentioned below

"Acacia farnesiana is an aggressive colonizer and is regarded as an invasive weed both in parts of its native range and where introduced, notably in Australia, the USA, and some Pacific and Caribbean islands. A. farnesiana is mostly a weed of pastures and able to form dense thorny thickets, which may cause injury to livestock and may shade out native fodder species."
Source: http://www.cabi.org/isc/?compid=5&dsid= ... 1&site=144

The link also confirms that it is an invasive tree
http://www.issg.org/database/species/se ... -1&lang=EN

Surprisingly Zahrah Nasir did't mention the invasive trait of this tree and in 2005 published an article on Acacia titled "Underrated Acacia" in which she mistakenly listed it as an indigenous tree of Pakistan. She mentioned the following about this tree.

"The very prickly Acacia Farnesiana is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and various skin problems, while its ripe seed s produce a cooking oil and its young leaves are added to pickles. The extremely valuable extract from the flowers is called cassie, and as this extract actually has more of a violet fragrance than violets themselves the flowers are much sought after the perfume industry."

Certain Acacia tree varieties can also kill as they have an astonishing defence system in the form of tannin a by product which is fine as tea flavouring , but at times can be deadly to wildlife. The acacia tree uses tannin to repel nibbling nuisances. Once 3000 Kudu Antelopes were discovered dead in South Africa around 1990. It turned out that when these antelopes used to bite an acacia leaf, the tree used to step up its tannin output and release ethylene gas into the air. Acacias down-wind sense the ethylene gas as a warning and increase their own tannin. The Kudu Antelope fenced on game ranches during a drought had little to eat but acacias and perished.

I hope the following information do not scare everyone and i might as well also discuss the positive aspect of growing acacia. There's no doubt there are some varieties of Acacia tree indigenous to Pakistan and are also environment friendly. The following was mentioned about the acacias by Zahrah Nasir.

"Acacias tolerate extremely difficult conditions including drought and salinity along with pollution, offering homes to a few tough species of birds and insects including honey bees. There are more than 1000 varieties of acacias grown all over the world . Quite often spiny, which helps to protect the trees particularly in early stages of growth against goats and camels, the family acacia is really a blessing in disguise.

These very important trees, though often despised, are a source of shade for grazing animals and for shanties inhabited by the poor. Acacia provide a large quantity of fuel to deed the cooking fires of these people. They cut branches, sometimes entire trees, on a regular basis, also using the greenery as fodder for their animals, but as long s the tree roots remain in the ground, they somehow find the strength to grown again at quite an amazing rate.

This huge family of evergeen, semi evergreen, or deciduous trees and shrubs is, on the whole, very fast growing though short lived but start coming into blossom at a relatively early stage. They have a wide, often important range of commercial and medical uses.

Numerous varieties are grown for their valuable timber as they thrive under poor, even desert conditions. Some species are also cultivated for the valuable compounds they contain and which are extracted for use in medicine, flavouring, the perfume industry, dyes, tanning leather, adhesives and insecticides.

Acacia Arabic is the source of Gum Arabic and is widely grown in the Middle East. Gum Arabic is used in making sweets and confectionaries. The young leaves, shoot and even the bark of Acacia Catechu are used in the treatment of dysentery, chronic diarrhoea and catarrh. Extract are also used, externally to stop nose bleeds, treat hemorrohids, skins eruptions, bed sores, mouth ulcers sore throats and gum infections. A product of this tree , a tannin known as katha is also one of the ingredients of paan.

Here in Pakistan we have eight indigenous varieties of acacia. Acacia Modesta an indigenous variety which is possibly the modest widespread variety we have is a well known source of particularly excellent flavoured honey and this species is locally called phullai.

Acacia Nilotica, known to many of us as kikar, is much prized for its extremely hard wood which is used in crafting of furniture particularly in Chiniot area of the Punjab.

Many varieties of acacia make extremely attractive additions to your garden and some of these, though i would suggest that you only grow the non prickly varieties to avoid unnecessary accidents, are quite comfortable if grown in large plants pots.

On top of my personal list of favourites is Acacia Pravissima or Oven's wattle of Australian origin. Next on my list is Acacia Drummondii which is also native to Western Australia.

Acacias are all ever easy to propogate from the seeds as long as you soak the seed, which is very hard shelled, in a cup of boiling water for 24 hours prior to sowing. Seeds can be sown throughout the year in cities such as Karachi and Hyderabad but are best sown in spring in places such as Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Islamabad. Few varieties will tolerate frost and therfore those of you who are living in cold regions need to slect the species accordingly. "

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by AYK » December 8th, 2015, 11:00 pm

KBW wrote:Paper Mulberry is another example. Some pseudo-scholar just saw one side of its performance, ie, fast growth and planted millions of them in Islamabad. Now it's almost impossible to eliminate that plant and so many people are suffering with pollen allergies.

Elistonia is yet another example. We planted it because it's a beautiful tree, very majestic looking and quite a stable performer. However, it also sucks all the nutrients and water from the soil and literally makes the ground barren around it. Same is the case with different types of Ficus / Rubber trees. We have started bulk plantation of Ficus in our cities just because it looks beautiful. It will surely have its effects in next few years but who cares?

So what should we do? What is the guideline?
Excellent information regarding Alistonia tree. I had around 15 trees about 3 years ago but now I have to cut them. Cannot be part of harming the environment. Thank you

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by Izhar » December 9th, 2015, 9:08 am

Alstonia scholaris is our native tree... it doesn't barren the surroundings...

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by mikhurram » December 11th, 2015, 3:29 pm

Your observation is correct. Alstonia Scholaris is indeed a native tree of our region a fact mentioned in Percy Lancaster Sydney book, " A Sahib Manual to Gardening in India" who was the last Britisher to hold the position of Gardening Superintendent of India till 1956.

Though it is a native tree and it may still be an environmentally unfriendly tree owning to quench for water and lastly not to mention that it is favourite target of mealy bugs. However it's flowers emit a wonderful fragrance these days similar to raat ki rani.

Fortunately i have his book and here is a link from his book about Alstonia.
https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=tm ... er&f=false

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