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


Today I read: About a beautiful garden

Sometimes it is so difficult to give an appropriate title to a post that I reluctantly write.

The draft session of my blog is full of unfinished stories. I am currently writing about the ancient banyan trees of old Clifton. My speed is slow. I can be easily distracted by thousands of things in my surroundings.

I am also getting timely inspiration from Quora groups. There’s recently in Quora I happened to stumble upon a question that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The question was unique in that sense it was about a beautiful garden…

In a beautiful garden, there is a lonely tree that produces very tasty fruit. Can you guess the fruit?

That’s a very poetic question and the person who asked this also happens to give a stunning explanation.

Here’s a screenshot that I manage to take for reviewing it here.

A pomegrante tree illustration by Walter Crane

I am not good at narrating a story but my quick response was something like…

If I have to illustrate a garden where there is only a lonely tree that tastes heavenly then I would like to take you back to my childhood days where I have left so many memories of beautiful trees behind.

Here, I would like to mention that I am from a South Asian background. And the climate was very hot where I used to live.

This means there was plenty of sunlight and the soil was also good in those old times. In summer with the arrival of the monsoon season, it used to rain a lot continuously for days. (Plenty of water as well)

We used to have a small garden in our house. My father is an ardent lover of fruit trees and he used to plant a variety of plants and vegetables in our old house.

There was right in the middle of our courtyard lies a lonely tree. Sometimes it came into my dreams and put me in a nostalgic state for days. It was a white variety of the pomegranate tree. They tasted very sweet and juicy. It was a very tall and shady tree.

Birds of all kinds were regular visitors of that tree. I remembered a pair of parrots frequently visiting this tree. Not to forget about bees with their buzzing sounds always defending their territory. They had built a hive there and considered the pomegranate tree as their home. I dread to go near that tree because of them. I was just a little school girl back then.

It was lonely in that sense there were no other pomegranate trees nearby to give him company.

Life goes on and we moved to another house but the love for pomegranate trees never dies. We also planted a pair of pomegranates in our new house. Hope I didn’t bore you lol.

That’s it for now. Thank you for reading and enjoying this post.


Also read: It’s a pomegranate time


Sources:

Quora post

Pomegranate illustration

Walter Crane
1845-1915
A Pomegranate Tree. Verso: Fragmentary sketches of two figures
1872
Watercolor and opaque watercolor, over black chalk, on paper; verso: black chalk.


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


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5 Things You Should Know About The Colour Green

Lovers of pine

Lovers of pine is a Japanese folktale about two lovers that become two young pine trees by sitting under a shade of an old pine tree.



It happened in ancient times when the capital of Japan was still the city of Nara. (Nara, located around 30 km south of modern Kyoto, was the capital of ancient Japan between 710 and 784 CE.)

There lived a young man named Iratsuko and a girl named Iratsume. They were both very beautiful people which caused many people to gossip about them.

“It would be good if the Iratsuko and Iratsume fell in love,” people would say.

But the two of them didn’t notice each other at all. Iratsuko heard what people were saying but he only waved his hand while Iratsume only smiled as she continued on her way.

One evening while the people of the village were staging a big celebration they gathered in the forest glade and began to sing, dance and compose poems.

Then the young man approached Iratsume.

“Turn to look at me,” he asked her. “You are beautiful, like a young pine. Give me some sign that you love me.”

“Do not befit me to listen to such speeches,” she said blushing. “I confess however that I have loved you for a long time. People noticed us, which lead to conversations which in turn made me curious.”

Then everyone began to eavesdrop on their conversation.

“When are you going to be married?” the people called.

“Leave us in peace. Do not look at us, do not touch us” Iratsuko said with anger as he grabbed the girl by the hand and ran into the forest.

“It’s not like we hurt them,” the people said shaking their head. “We were just happy at their good fortune in finding each other at last.”

The two lovers ran into the woods and sat down under an old pine tree.

“Those people never give you a moment’s peace,” Iratsuko snarled.

“It’s true, people are forever sticking their noses into others business,” Iratsume agreed.

It was dark and quite, with only the moon in the sky for light and the gentle sound of the leaves falling from the trees. The two of them sat up all night by the old pine and didn’t notice that morning had come. When the sun rose over the mountain they looked around, they could hear roosters in the distance and a dog barking.

“Let’s go back to the village,” Iratsuko said, but as he tried to rise he found that he was rooted to the ground.

“I’ll help you!” Iratsume exclaimed, but her feet were rooted to the ground as well.

“What’s happened to us!?” the two lovers exclaimed in surprise.

Meanwhile the rest of the villagers came into the forest to search for Irasuko and Iratsume. And lo and behold at the edge of the woods they found two young pine trees. The people gasped when they saw these pines.

“Look, look! It’s Iratsuko and Iratsume. They have turned into pine trees,” the people cried.

Iratsume and Iratsuko heard this and grew frightened for they realized that they must surely have become pine trees.  So they were now two pine trees at the edge of the forest. Sometimes farmers come into the woods and sit under them while asking, “How are you my pretty Iratsume? And is Iratsuko feeling well?”

That’s when the pine creaks and the pines wave and the tree seems to say. “Again you break our peace! We get no salvation from you. Do not look at us, do not touch us.”

So the farmers sigh and eventually go away. So the pine Iratsume is called “do not look at me,” and the pine Iratsuko is called, “do not touch me.”



Source:

Japanese Fairy Tale

The tree which is known as the god of fire

 Tree profile:

    Common Names: Coral tree, Indian Coral tree
    Scientific Names: Butea monosperma, Butea frondosa, Erythrina monosperma
    Family: Fabaceae
    Subfamily: Faboideae
    Local Names: Flame of the Forest, Dhak, Palas, Bastard Teak, Parrot Tree, kesu, gule nishter
    Origin: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
    Plant Characteristics: Woody. No latex, aromatic flowers, (Trifoliate) Compound leaves, have alternate arrangements of leaves.

An interesting introduction to the Coral tree  (Dhaak/ Palash tree)

You may or may not know me but I am a tree native to tropical and subtropical regions of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Srilanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, to name a few ones.

People of these countries adore me so much that they love to call me by different names in their local languages and dialects.

I am a small-sized dry season, deciduous tree. It simply means that I can shed my leaves when the autumn dawns. I can grow up to 15 m (49 ft) tall. I admire my striking height. Though I limped sometimes.

Scientifically, I am known as Butea monosperma throughout the world as it is my botanical name. I am also described in some textbooks as Butea frondosa so please don’t get confused if someone mentions me by this name. It’s my synonym.

I have so many related names but for the lack of time, I would like to mention a  few of them to keep the momentum going. I have compiled a list of some of my favorites.

In English speaking countries, I am known as bastard teak or parrot tree.

In the Hindi language, I am entitled to be known as chichra tasu, desuka, Palash, chalcha, Kankrei, etc.

 

To begin with,  I am widely acknowledged as the flame of the forest or flame tree because of my vibrant personality. It’s an interesting read. I am prized for my flowers which take on a fascinating look in late spring due to the orange-red hue of my flowers.

For this reason, I am symbolized as the color of love in South Asian cultures and also known to be assumed as a first sign for the arrival of spring.

Notoriously, I am recognized as the bastard teak because of my striking resemblance with the teak tree in having the same features such as hard durable wood.

Where am I located? I am currently blooming proudly in the salt ranges of Pakistan. Here, I am locally known as Chahchra or Dhaak.

This image is taken from Dawn.com

 

I possess the ability to endure elevated amounts of salt in the soil and withstand extreme changes in weather. Hence, I am widely distributed in the salt ranges of Pakistan or can also be seen growing easily in coastal areas of my country.

Palash (which means a flowering tree) is another splendid name that has become my recognition in my neighbor country. They even named their newborn baby boys with my name to show their affection for me. I feel so honored and blessed.

Some say the town of Palashi in West Bengal adopts its name from the Palash tree. (Note: The town was famous for the historic battle of Plassey fought there). What a great way to tribute this tree!

A parrot tree is another pleasant name that is bestowed on me. I am so intricately designed that my stunning orange-red flowers appear before the leaves. Each flower consists of five petals comprising one standard, two smaller wings, and a very curved beak-shaped keel. It is this beak-shaped keel that lends me the name of Parrot Tree.

 

You might have heard of that popular Urdu proverb, “dhaak k teen paat” which comes from the prominent three leaflets shape of this tree.  The phrase means efforts leading to no results.

Despite being known as a prized tree by nature enthusiasts or Hakeem, I receive little interest from the general public.

Fated to be named as the flame of the forest, I am now mostly regarded as an ornamental tree.

The reason for the decline of these trees in rural areas is because the inhabitants here do not prefer to plant new saplings of these species. After all, they considered these trees to be slow-growing.

Sadly, a little has been done to preserve this magnificent tree. It was known to thrive in abundance in the salt ranges of Kohistan.  But now the number has been dramatically decreased with time due to the constant need for its wood to use as fuel.

This tree is humbly requesting you to craft ways to protect it from vanishing from its beloved country.

How can we protect the Dhak tree from extinction?

It has been real injustice to this kind of tree. It grows even on dead mountains, does so well in salty soils, and proves to be an incredible host to lac Insects.

Now, it’s time to give the due credit and affection to these Dhak trees.


Here are some ways to conserve this tree for future generations to come.

1. Write more about native trees/ Awareness plays a critical role in the protection of native trees.

2. Plant new saplings of this species.

3. Be a nature enthusiast. Or be a tree enthusiast to be more precise.

4. Come and visit this tree when it is naturally blooming in the spring season.

5. Go to your local nursery and obtain information about this tree.


Fast five medicinal uses about Butea monosperma

1. It is a potent astringent used in the treatment of diarrhea.

2. The seeds of Butea monosperma when mixed into a paste with honey are used for their antihelmintic, antifungal, anti-bacterial properties.

3. The seeds contain about 18% oil. Known as moodoga oil which is an effective treatment for hookworms.

4. The flowers of this tree are used in the treatment of liver disorders.

5. The flowers contain butrin and isobutrin. These combinations have been shown to have antihepatotoxic properties.


Precautions should be taken to use these herbal medicines. Don’t use these products on your own or without legal permission from authorized personnel.

The “medicinal uses” mentioned here is only for general knowledge.  Not to be applied practically without legal authorization or without being approved from the concerned field.


Thank you for reading and highlighting my work. I frequently write for trees and think about them in my happy time. Please visit my blog and do comment on my posts for offering me a little dose of encouragement that I rarely receive.


This post is originally shared on Medium. Visit this link to read more about tree stories.


Why Write For Trees?

I love encouraging people to write for trees. And there is only one valid reason for writing about trees is that they reconnect us with nature.

This image is designed by using Canva app

After nourishment, protection, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. Philip Pullman.

We tend to facilitate each other through the art of storytelling. So, what happens when we don’t tell stories? We die or simply lose interest in a story when it didn’t take us to an interesting place.

Trees reconnect us with nature. The problem that happened in today’s world is that we have lost the mindset of respecting trees, let alone tell stories about them.

Do you ever wonder, how can we respect trees?

It is the same as hugging a tree or not harming them in any physical way possible.

Unfortunately, trees are no longer viewed as the precious heritage of mankind.

In ancient times, there was the concept of growing trees near roadsides, or around the cottage to bring prosperity and wealth to the local community.

This credit of loving trees goes to our ancestors because of their undying respect for this planet on which we are currently living.

They displayed a tremendous amount of wisdom for trees that we don’t have. They respect trees by worshipping them. They respect trees by planting them in abundance wherever they go. They respect trees by documenting them. They respect trees by praising them and the list goes on.

A change in mindset is needed to preserve our native trees otherwise we will keep losing these trees just for our materialistic gains.

If you want to tell interesting stories about trees then the first thing you have to do is to give them due respect and credit. Here, are 14 incredible reasons why we should respect trees and adore them.

14 incredible reasons to respect trees

1. Trees play a vital role in capturing rainwater

Trees play a vital role in capturing rainwater and decreasing the risk of natural disasters like floods and landslides.

2. Trees communicate with each other

Trees communicate with each other and shared nutrients through an intricate underground web of fungi.

3. Old vs New

Scientists have found that older trees share nutrients with younger trees, which later repay them when they have evolved.

4. A mature evergreen tree

Do you know a mature evergreen tree can stop more than 15,000 liters of water every year?

5. An incredible fact about trees

It’s not a myth but an incredible fact that hospital patients with rooms close to trees happened to recover faster than those without the same view with trees.

6. Reduce stress and anxiety by connecting with trees

Trees help reduce stress and anxiety when we walk through a calm, quiet forest with a stream passing nearby.

7. Native trees help stabilize the environment

Native trees help us reconnect with nature. This is an amazing reason to love trees. Protect native trees by not cutting them down.

8. Keep alive the art of storytelling through trees

Trees have long been interlinked with the art of storytelling. Keep old ways alive by telling tales about trees.

9. An ideal backrest for reading

Trees provide the ideal backrest for reading a book or a magazine.

10. Native trees purify the air

Native trees purify the air we breathe. New research indicates that planting non-native trees hasten the rate of carbon released into the atmosphere. This is why I am in favor of planting native trees.

11. Native trees filter the water

Native trees filter the water we drink.

12. Native trees support us

Native trees take longer to grow since their tissue is denser, but they support a wide range of fauna and flora in the community.

13. Trees are an integral part of our food chain

Most native trees are also fruit-bearing and form an integral part of the food, culture, and customs of the region.

14. The history and mythology of the world revolved around trees

The history and mythology related to trees had inspired works of fiction for thousands of years. (I have read somewhere that Sara Maitland in her fascinating book, Gossip from the Forest, proposes that in ancient times the forests were both the background and the source of fairytales. Because of their mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and threats, forests were regarded as the background plot for stories such as Little red riding hood, Hansel and Gretel, and the seven dwarves)


Thank you for reading and highlighting my work. I frequently write for trees and think about them in my happy time. Please visit my blog and do comment on my posts for giving me a little dose of encouragement that I rarely receive.