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Tree native to Somalia takes root in Pune

Sunday, September 02, 2012

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PUNE: Conocarpus lancifolius, a native tree of Somalia found along the banks of Juba and Shebelli rivers, was recently spotted growing on the roadside in Mahatma Society, Kothrud. It is the only tree of the species growing in the city.

Amateur botanist Shrikant Ingalhalikar told TOI that this evergreen tree is flowering and bearing fruits. "This unusual tree was planted 25 years ago by Dattatraya Gulavani, a tree-loving resident of the society. It was brought from Dubai where it is a common avenue tree. It is the only tree of its kind in Pune," he said.

This full-grown tree, called ghalab in Somali and damas in Arabic, was spotted and identified by tree enthusiast Vinaya Acharya.

While the diversity of trees in Pune is claimed to be the richest in India, tree lovers of Pune are taking the initiative to identify and spot new additions, Ingalhalikar said.

"The damas in Pune is about 6 metres tall, but in its native country it can grow to 15 metres. This straight-branched tree has a dense foliage of lance shaped leaves. The flowers are fragrant and minute in round heads. The fruits appear like cones of conifer trees, hence the name Conocarpus. This tree is a kin of dhawda tree which is native to India. This riparian tree is used for protecting and restoring riverbanks in East African countries,'' he said.

Due to its evergreen, shining foliage and fast growth it is popular as an avenue tree.

The tree is used as a bio-remedy for removing oil from contaminated soils.

Conocarpus is also significant as it absorbs and accumulates heavy metals in its roots, Ingalhalikar added.

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