Few Words About The Trees Of Margalla Hills National Park
Trees are to land as clothes to humans: they cover and protect the earth. Their canopies, as varied as the trees, provide shade in summer and allow birds to roost and breed. They flower at different times of the year adding colour to the environment. Trees soften the impact of rain as it falls on the earth and their roots save the land from erosion. Some trees shed their leaves to protect the grasses from winter frost and some keep their leaves helping the snow to stay longer and help the earth recharge its aquifers. Islamabad is one of a handful of capital cities of the world that has a national park at its doorstep. The twelve most common trees of this area are presented in this poster. All these trees can be easily seen by the visitors. They are all native to the soil except the mango tree, which is a visitor from the Southern Punjab and Sindh and was planted here in the orchards many years ago.
Types Of Trees Found In Margalla Hills National Park
Aam Or Mango
It is known as the king of all fruits. Its leaves form a beautiful dark green canopy. These turn from orange-pink on the young tree to dark evergreen leaves as it matures. Each flower is small and has a mild sweet odor. The fruit takes from three to six months to ripen. Due to winter ground frost, Islamabad is unsuitable for this fruit, but the Saidpur village, because of its warmer temperature in the past, had planted mango orchards about half a century ago. The now-mature trees and can be seen at the far end of the forest nursery opposite the Visitor Information Center.
It is one of the fairytale trees in the Park. Found abundantly in the foothills, many young trees can be seen along the trail leading to the stream from the VIC. It is at its best in spring when the flowers explode in color and cover the whole tree. Hardly any leaves are visible at this time. Young flower buds are picked and sold in the local market as a vegetable that is usually cooked with mincemeat. These plants are easily recognized by the peculiar shape of their leaves, each constituting of two identical halves, folded at the midrib. The leaves form a very potent fodder. These are generally lopped for cattle.
Kahjoor Or Date Palm
This signature tree of the desert is surprisingly found in the Park in small but striking numbers. It is extensively cultivated for its edible fruit known as a date. The Palm is dioecious, having separate male and female plants. The Date Palms in the Park seem to be mostly male and have rudimentary or unfertilized fruit which is not edible. They are scattered in small numbers in the lower plains of the Park but a few species also grow at higher elevations. Seeds may have been spread by travelers who threw them away after eating the fruit. There are fine specimens present in the campsite close to the Visitor Information Center.
It was one of the standard trees of Islamabad surroundings, but is now out of favor. It is a medium to large tree. The smaller bush variety grows at the foothills of the Park. The fruit, a favorite with locals, can be eaten off the tree when red and ripe and is also sun dried and sold in the local market. Theleaves and young shoots are useful as fodder and the wood is used as fuel.
Chir or Pine
It is the queen of the Park. Pine trees are evergreen and resinous and form the silhouette of the park’s skyline. Pine trees have a thin, flaking bark. They are mostly monoecious, having the male and female cones on the same tree. The seeds are mostly small and winged, and are wind-dispersed. At maturity, the cones usually open to release the seeds. Pine trees are present on the upper reaches of the Darra Jangla valley where the trail ends at the road. Pines would not be normally present at the elevation of the town but have been extensively planted along the main Margalla road.
It is large leafy tree. Its foliage is highly prized as lactaceous feed for cattle. Farmers never allow the leaves of this tree to fall naturally. Instead, they lop the tree slowly and steadily. Dhaman flowers during April-May. The fruits of Dhaman, fleshy drupe, are dark green when raw and pinkish dark when ripe, with scattered stiff white hair. Smaller branches are used as firewood.