Monday, June 25, 2012

Native and Invader Trees of Oman

Check out these trees commonly found in the landscape of Oman. 
Links to 'green' societies in Oman:
The Simr (Acacia)
The Simr tree is native to Oman and other regions.
Special features of the Simr are:
  • The wood is excellent for burning and cooking. Simr is the wood of choice for heating when making the traditional dish of 'shuwa' meat marinated and cooked underground for hours.
  • Special quality honey is made from bees which pollinate using the Simr blossoms.
  • Animals and livestock nibble on the Simr buds for nutrition.
  • Simr provides shade to creatures and even cars in the desert climate.
The Palm (Neckla (s.) Nakheel (pl.)
The date producing palm tree is traditionally revered by locals. Their fruits being served with coffee as a custom. Many local families keep gardens with palms and pick their own dates for consumption. Some information about palms:

  • A baby palm tree is called 'fiseela', and it takes about three years to become mature enough to   produce quality dates.
  • The local word for dates is 'seh', but 'timor' and 'belah' are well know Arabic words for dates. Dates which are still ripening are called 'ratab'.
  • Dates ripen once a year starting in the Dema Watayyeen wilayat. Ibri and the Dhahirah region are praised for their quality of dates. Humidity effects the quality of the dates.
  • To harvest dates locals or workers climb the trees using a special belt called 'sooh'.
  • Some popular types of dates: Khalas, Khunaizi, Ksaab, Fard, Hilali, and Nagal. 
Palms of Nakhal City
The Ghaf "Mesquite" Bahri - Invader Tree
Hailing from South and Central America known as the mesquite tree, the scientific name of this species of tree is 'Prosopis juliflora'. Since being brought to Oman about 30 years ago, the Ghaf Bahri has really taken root and spread through out the country. Acting as giant weed here in the Sultanate, this tree has some very interesting qualities:

  • The Ghaf Bahri emits chemicals into the ground which is noxious to other plants and prevents other tree species from sprouting nearby.*
  • The roots can span 50 meters and grows up to five meters yearly.
  • Goats are likely to suffer detrimental effects if 20% or more of their diet comes from pods of the tree*.
  • Local communities in Salalah and elsewhere have taken measures to contain the tree by burning them and bulldozing from the roots. Eradication seems impossible and now concerned experts are looking for ways to contain the tree and make use of them. 

The Ghaf Native

The Ghaf is a famous tree in Oman and the UAE. Native to arid areas, the scientific name is Prosopis cineraria. 

The Qurm 'Mangrove' Tree
The Qurm region in Muscat is named after the tree.

The Frankincense 'Luban' Tree (Boswellia sacra)
A lot has been written on Frankincense, so I will not go into much detail here. In Oman, trees grow in Salalah which are harvested and then sold around Oman and to the world. To burn Frankincense, locally known as 'luban', first light some charcoal. Hookah charcoal works well. Place charcoal in incense burner. Then, place a few chips of luban on top of the charcoal. 

Below is an excerpt from Oman Observer article describing other tree species in Oman.

Perennial beauty of Oman
By Dawood Suleiman al Balushi 

The scientific name is Juniperus excels. It is family: cupressaceous.
This large evergreen and aromatic tree is up to 18m tall. The Al’alan fruits smoke is a good repellant to pests and all kinds of reptiles. The smoke of burning fruit disturbs pests and reptiles to the point that they leave the area. This method could be used to kill mosquitoes, fleas and home insects like bugs… etc. Also, mice hate Al’alan fruits smoke and fled away from this smoke. This tree mainly spreads in the highlands of Al Jabal Al Akhdar and Jabal Shams (Western Hajr Mountains range).
The scientific name is Ziziphus hajarenisi (wild). It is family: Rhamnaceae hajarenisi — It is a medium sized tree with multiple stems similar to Ziziphus (sider) in leaves and spines while it differs from it in fruits. It is rarely eaten by man, unlike the fruits of sider, and animals feed on its fruits and leaves. Also the powder extracted from its leaves is used by women on hair to make it lustrous and healthy. This tree grows in the rocky slopes and valleys (western and eastern of Hajr range).
The scientific name is Monotheca buxifolia. It is a perennial tree naturally growing on semi-cold, rocky highlands. It produces fruits once a year, which are berry blackish when ripe and edible. It is a tree of nutritious and economic value. A tree of the same family was discovered on Jabal Samhan in Dhofar Governorate. It is mainly distributed on western and eastern Hajr mountain range. Only one tree was recorded on Jabal Samhan in Dhofar Governorate.
The scientific name is Olea europaea. It is an evergreen tree, up to 3 m tall. Its hard and termite-resistant wood is mostly used in construction works and for making sticks, while its slender branches are used for making kohl sticks. In drought season, the tender tips of its leaves are cut to feed livestock. It occurs in vegetated mountain areas within the seasonal areas. In Oman, it exists in the Eastern and western Hajr mountain ranges and in Dhofar mountains.
The scientific name is Prunus Arabica. It is family: Rosaceae. It is evergreen tree, up to 3 metre tall. It is deciduous tree leaving the branches leafless for most of the year. flowers are pale pink and small fruit, with hard nut, covered with brown hairs. Its wood is used to make axe and walking sticks handles. Naturally distributed in Musandam mountains and part of the eastern Hajr mountain range above 1000m.

1 comment:

  1. Very good information on dates..was looking for information for my blog and found it here.