The Detailed Analysis Of Ancient Banyan Trees Of Old Clifton Road, Karachi

TREE PROFILE:
Common Names:
Banyan tree, Indian Fig tree
Scientific Names: Ficus benghalensis
Family: Moraceae
Genus: Ficus
Local Names: Barghad ka darakht, bohr, barh
Origin: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh


These ancient banyan trees have been granted to us in all bountiful ways by nature. This is nearly a perfect test of our being in the right temper of mind and way of life so that anyone who loves trees enough, would know about them in their full glory.

I am talking about these banyan trees of old Clifton in fondness which transforms the continuance of physical spacetime into moments.

I recently came to know about this unique wonder of nature while scrolling down some posts from a Facebook group. The name of the group is In Defence Of Trees. It is Almas Mehmood who first shared these photos entitling old faithful banyan trees of Clifton and then I decided that it’s an ideal time for me to document these marvelous living miracle of nature.

Where these Banyan trees are located?

1. For this, you have to visit Karachi. You can easily locate these Banyan trees at Shahrah-e-Iran road in old Clifton Karachi, Pakistan.

2. It is an area of the city that was developed in the 19th century. It was those days when Henry Bartle Frere was appointed chief commissioner of Sindh. In 1850, he took advantage of the opportunities granted to him of further developing the city.

“It was said that he even pensioned off the dispossessed amirs, improved the harbour at Karachi, where he also established municipal buildings, a museum and barracks, instituted fairs, multiplied roads, canals and schools.”

The banyan trees were planted in abundance along the roadsides initially to please the Hindu community at that time because of their religious affiliation with these trees. It was the time of great mutiny.

What is special about these Banyan Trees?

3. It all happened when Karachi’s Natural Heritage Association decided to take a visionary step due to some concerned reasons.

They intentionally, marked and preserved about 68 banyan trees in the old Clifton area only. Here’s the proof.

Thankfully, I found these additional photos via Twitter while browsing about them.

4. City authorities have declared all banyan trees as protected heritage in order to prevent them from being mercilessly chopped off. Source

There I found out that they even rehabilitated an old banyan tree.

Furthermore, the provincial environment department has started preserving 68 old Banyan trees to protect them from vandalism. Source.

This is a great initiative by the government of Sindh of saving heritage trees from immediate extinction. And in this way giving more power to old trees so that they can thrive in full bloom.

5. Don’t you think it’s an amazing fact that some of these trees are believed to be 100 years old or more?

But unfortunately, now these trees are facing the threat of becoming extinct. The reasons are so many to consider: Some think that this is due to the skyrocketing developmental projects in the area. And some cleverly put all the blame on the negligence of the local community.

The detailed analysis of these ancient banyan trees of Karachi

Now here comes the fun part and my favorite activity of documenting trees.

Picture 1.

At first, if you glance closely at this tree it seems as they have branches almost everywhere. The branches are unusually long and they have a power to grow and spread at great distances.

It’s unfortunate to see this tree in such drastic conditions. Banyans are native to and thrive best in India and Pakistan. These days, variations of the majestic trees can be found almost everywhere in the world.

The best way to care for them is to give them plenty of space and warm, wet, humid weather. It seems that this tree is already enjoying the view but the debris around this tree is worrisome.

This tree has shed an ample amount of green leaves. Why so? They usually shed their leaves in a dormant/ off season when the temperature of the area dramatically drops.

The banyan is a decidous evergreen tree and it doesn’t shed all it’s leaves at the same time.

The term deciduous means it will shed its leaves annually. Evergreen in the sense that the leaves will remain vibrant green even in winter season unlike other autumn trees.

I think when the picture was taken, it might be the autumn season or the end of the winter season as it is partly covered with leaves.

They will regrow their green leaves when the weather warms up. Banyan trees usually shed their leaves in the dry season to retain the moisture.

It is planted near a building, driveway or a street. It can be easily identified by its aerial roots.


Picture 2:

Wow, simply wow! This picture is best to determine at which time of the day it is photographed.

The shadow casts by these trees depend on many factors such as the time of day, location, a particular season, and shape of the trees.

If the sun is to the north of the tree then the shadow will cast on the opposite side of the tree that is to the south.

One of the most attractive aspects of any tree is the shadow it casts. Seeing the shadow its casting say eternity. The hot summer day. Birds are loving the shade. It is 12 o clock when the sun is accurately above the trees. I can be wrong.

It should be noted that the longest shadows occur at the sun rise and sunset. It is hard to determine the time of the day at that angle. But my guess is that it must be noon or afternoon time when the picture has been taken.

I can see a crow nearby. Can you? Here it should be mentioned that some native birds like crow and common myna dispersed the seeds of banyan trees. They are abundantly found near those trees which have a dense canopy.

This trees along the road indicates that they are really in bad postures. The concrete pavement has limited the spread of these trees and they have leaned themselves towards one side because of lack of support.


Picture 3:

The main trunk of this tree is not visible as the aerial roots have grown around the trunk.

Older banyan trees are characterized by aerial prop roots that mature into thick, woody trunks, which can become indistinguishable from the primary trunk with age.

This tree is not laterally spreading over a wide area. The roots have been damaged due to debris and stones.

Ficus benghalensis produces propagating roots which grow downwards as aerial roots. Once these roots reach the ground they grow into woody trunks.

If this tree is given ideal conditions it can easily develop lateral branches and can spread to large distances. This is my favourite banyan tree so far. The tree has already uprooted the pavement. The debris of the fallen leaves has increased the fertility of the soil. It is damp and moist.

The fruits and seeds produced by these tree are eaten by birds such as common myna and crows as they can been seen around.

Rumour has it that the fig seeds which pass through the digestive system of these birds are more likely to germinate and sprout earlier.

Picture 4:

This is a classic example of the strangler fig. The main trunk is somewhere lost in that twirling pattern.

Can you see the prop up roots? Can you locate the common myna nearby?

The hanging branches has decided to curl up around the tree. Sadly some branches have been cut down so that they can’t reach the ground.

Picture 5:

Picture 6:

My heart is bleeding for that tree. The concrete pavement is restricting the growth.

Pictures 5 and 6 are of the same tree. My blind guess.


Picture 7:

Now this tree is like a mini forest of its kind. The banyan tree is right among the largest living trees in the world by canopy coverage. My observation says this tree is the same as in picture 1 but here the picture is taken from the front angle instead of being photographed from the sides.

I am ending this article here because initially my attention is not to write a lengthy post. These are entirely my views, so can be wrong and inaccurate. Thank you for reading, though. Do comment please!

Sources:

Facebook post

Arabnews

About Sir Henry Bartle

The Banyan trees of old Clifton past and possible future/samaa

Banyan trees declared protected heritage in Karachi

Oyeyeah/ Karachi Banyan trees


The survival of an heritage tree

This picture recently receives my attention on the social media platform. It happens when a person by the name Hamayun Mughal shared this image with a local gardening group on Facebook and it awestruck me since then.

The battle of the survival of the heritage and tree

I was stunned to find this kind of tree that has embedded its roots deep in the walls of a neglected building. Out of curiosity, a little research on it reveals that it is a Haveli (mansion) Sujan Singh which is located in the overcrowded market of Bhabhra Bazar, Rawalpindi.

It was built in the early 1890s by a wealthy businessman Rai Bahadur Sujan Singh in the Colonial era.

The haveli was built to resemble a royal palace with a majestic golden throne and bedrooms with original ivory furniture. In the various courtyards dancing peacocks were kept to dance during the evening and a pet tiger was kept which regularly walked the corridors.

Wikipedia

It might be a spell-binding place in the olden days but now some parts of the haveli have been badly demolished, with collapsed roofs and termite-ridden walls further damaging the place. Hence, the building has been left to crumble and rot with time.

But then this happened…

But then this happened, nature decided to take over the entire place with its own leafy interwoven pattern.

Can you see the place craftily overtaken by self-grown plants and trees of different sizes and types!
It is recognized as a heritage site by the government of Pakistan.

This is presuming a heritage tree because it has ecological and cultural value. It has beautifully embedded itself in a place that is recognized as a heritage site by the government of Pakistan.


This kind of tree takes pleasure in its transformations. It looks familiar, quiet, and consistent in its appearances, but few of us know how much wisdom and insight this kind of tree endures inside its roots. It is freaking sober and relaxes where it is supposed to be.


Here let us redefined a heritage tree:

  • A heritage tree is defined as a tree of cultural, biological, ecological, or historical concern depending upon its age, size, or condition.
  • They are often among the oldest living things in the country.
  • They are found in native forests, historic parks, farms, and estates of a country.
  • They are usually along roadsides and in agricultural fields and sometimes find in the middle of residential areas or development sites.
  • There is a need to preserve these trees for ecological and economic reasons.

What kind of tree it is?

This is a peepal tree which is one of the most beloved trees in the South Asian community.

There is a need to understand that native trees are highly aggressive and invasive while having an innate ability to spread almost anywhere.

This tree might be 10-20 years old or younger. It’s spread slowly but steadily when given ideal surroundings.

It’s a symbol of strength, morale, resistance and knowledge.

Throughout history, the peepal tree has been represented in different mythologies and sometimes linked to powerful gods. The peepal tree is considered a cosmic storehouse of wisdom comprised of tremendous strength. It grows slowly, but surely at its rate.

Are you wondering from where this tree is obtaining nourishment and overall strength?

  • Many factors are responsible for its growth such as an abundance of light is essential for photosynthesis, a process by which a plant manufactures its food.
  • The tree roots are well anchored and ingrained deeply requiring both organic and inorganic nutrients from the building.
  • The bricks are mostly wet and damp. So, you can see that the tree is receiving moisture from the rainwater and the structure itself.

Final thoughts:

I have heard that restoration work is in progress to revive this old-time architectural wonder. My only concern is that they don’t cut down this tree. I understand it must be a challenging task for them to preserve this historical site. Let’s hope for the best.

Sources:

Image courtesy: Facebook group post by Humayun Mughal

Haveli Sujan Singh


Thank you for reading. Please like, share and follow my blog.

This 150 years old banyan tree in Sialkot on the verge of being cut down!

I recently came to know about a magnificent banyan tree standing alone in a middle of a densely populated area that is recently on the brink of getting extinct in her own country of origin.

Today, my efforts are about saving a tree from the dire consequences of the pure stubbornness of her people. The problem is when the tree is cut off there will be none left. It will never be replaced. People need to understand why there is always a need to save such century-old trees.

Today, I am going to document the story of a banyan tree in Sialkot which is on the verge of being cut down by the local community.

Due to a very ridiculous reason that it yielded too much foliage which is unbearable for the neighbours and the passers-by alike.

They gave an improper justification to prove their point that it is very tiresome for the residents of that area to clear the mess of the fallen leaves especially for those neighbours who park their cars under the shade of this thriving tree.

It is a bitter reality that every year thousands of trees are being chopped off for the sake of development work. It is a very gruesome and barbaric act to destroy such national heritage.

The life span of banyan tree

The minimum life span of such a banyan tree is approximately 300-500 years. But if you allow the aerial roots and branches of banyan trees to expand in favourable conditions then the chances of survival of such trees are maximum. It is not an assumption but a fact that the banyan tree can easily survive for thousands of years.


This screenshot is obtained from a Facebook group by the name of Desi Gardening

Citizen’s role in saving this tree

It should be kept in mind that this modest-looking tree is probably 150 year’s old according to a concerned citizen by the name of Yasir Mirza who first highlight this issue by talking about it on various social media platforms.

According to him, this tree was planted by his paternal grand-uncle Munshi Nizam din in the era of British colonial rule in India.

Yeh tau hamare dada k bhai ne Munshi Nizam din ne angrez daur may lagaya tha”

Yasir Mirza

“Furthermore, its home to hundreds of birds”

Yasir Mirza

In most traditional villages of Pakistan, a banyan tree serves as an ideal meeting place for the entire village community but the problem with this specific tree is that it lies in the middle of an urban area with cemented paths and alleys.


The definition of an heritage tree

Before ending this post, here I would like to briefly define heritage trees and why there is a need to preserve such trees. An heritage tree is any kind of tree that is more than 50 years old and is of both cultural and ecological significance. It should be of some historical importance as well and provide food, medicine and shelter to the entire ecosystem.

Now I left this question for you to think about which measurements we should take to save this national heritage?

Thank you for reading. Please like, share and comment to let me know what do you thing about this post.

Sources:

Desi Gardening Facebook Group post by Yasir Mirza

Giant banyan tree in our street by Yasir Mirza