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Trees Of The Margallah Hills National Park

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

Mangifera indica

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.

Kachnar

Bauhinia variegate

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

Phoenix dactylifera

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.

Ber

Zizyphus jujuba

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

Pinux ruxburghii

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.

Dhaman

Grewia optiva

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.

Invasive Plant Species Of The Margallah Hills National Park

Some Common Species

Lantana

Scientific name: Lantana camara Local name: Panch Phulli

Lantana originates from Tropical America. About 3 m tall, this is an evergreen shrub with pink and yellow, occasionally orange flowers. It competes aggressively with local plants on the south-facing slopes of the Margallahs where it has overtaken native vegetation along stream beds, roads, croplands and even forest areas and pastures. Although its seeds are edible the leaves are toxic to livestock. Lantana contains an aromatic chemical which causes them to burn even when green.

Common Cocklebur

Scientific name: Xanthium strumarium
Local name: Kandiari

Cockelbur originates from North America. Reaching about 1.5m this shrub regenerates annually, flowering from July to October. The fruit are oval- shaped burs covered with hooked spikes that enable them to stick to the coats of animals or clothes of human beings. It is buoyant and floats down-stream to colonise new areas, spreading rapidly on a wide range of disturbed soils along roadsides and eroded stream beds. Both seeds and seedlings are toxic to livestock.

Carrot Grass

Scientific name: Parthenium hysterophrus
Local name: Gandi Booti

This weed comes from Central America. The plants, which regenerate each year, are up to a a metre tall, produce clusters of small white, disc-like flowers. It spreads through seeds and is a highly invasive ruderal plant in the Margallahs where it colonises disturbed areas in overgrazed rangeland, alongside roads, trails and tracks. All parts of this plant are plant are poisonous and may cause skin allergies and respiratory problems in humans and their livestock.

Invasive Alien
Species

Paper Mulberry

Scientific name: Parthenium hysterophrus
Local name: Gandi Booti

This weed comes from Central America. The plants, which regenerate each year, are up to a a metre tall, produce clusters of small white, disc-like flowers. It spreads through seeds and is a highly invasive ruderal plant in the Margallahs where it colonises disturbed areas in overgrazed rangeland, alongside roads, trails and tracks. All parts of this plant are plant are poisonous and may cause skin allergies and respiratory problems in humans and their livestock.

Marijuana

Scientific name: Broussonetia papyrifera
Local name: Valaitee toot

The land that is Islamabad today was just agricultural fields 40 years ago, at that time the city managers in a desire to green the new city on a fast track decided to import this fast growing broad leafed tree from China. It grows fast and once taken root can grow over a meter in a good monsoon. It reaches a maximum height of about 12 m and, like all deciduous trees, it loses its leaves in winter. It reproduces rapidly from seeds or roots and has spread along the lower south-facing slopes and lowland regions of the Margallahs. 

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