Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bamboo species in Pakistan

Bamboo plantations have been raised in Sargodha, Mandi Bhaudin, Kasur, Lahore, Khusab and Jhang areas of Punjab province. Most of the plantations have been raised under agro-forestry system on private farms. I have also seen Bamboo Plants on my way to Burewala.

Here is a list of 16 bamboo species that are found in the country,

1: Dendrocalamus strictus
2: Dendrocalamus giganteus
3: Dendrocalamus hamiltonii
4: Dendrocalamus longispathus
5: Melocanna bambusides
6: Arundinaria falcata
7: Bambusa arundinacea
8: Bambusa tulda
9: Bambusa polymorpha
10: Bambusa vulgaris
11: Bambusa nutans
12: Phyllostachys aurea.
13: Phyllostachys pubescens
14: Phyllostachys aureosulcata
15: Bambusa bambos
16: B. multiplex

It is said that the bamboo plant reflects the strength, determination and courage of the Asian people.Its much exalted qualities are resilience, versatility, durability and usefulness.

Cultivation of bamboo crop

BAMBOO plants are of grass family tribe. These are grown in warm or tropical regions where they are extremely important. The common bamboo is Bambusa arundincenia. These are most abundant in the East Asian region. Many species, at times reach the height of 100ft. The stalks are round, jointed and hollow or solid of deciduous leaves. Some types of bamboo die after flowering and some do not flower until they are about 30 years old.

This plant perhaps renders maximum service to man as compared to others. In many places, bamboo is used as wood, for house construction, scaffolding, furniture, utensils, fibre, paper, food, ladders, fencing, containers, tool handles, pipes, toys, musical instruments, handicrafts, fuel and innumerable small articles of everyday use.

Its sprouts are eaten as vegetable, and the grains of some species are also utilized as food. The bamboo has long been used for decorative purposes, both in gardens and in art. As a result of modern technological advances, new uses of bamboo and its products are also being explored such as the use to reinforce cement concrete, in medicines, charcoal, and bacteria culture.

The plant is the world’s tallest grass. In the Philippines, the bamboo becomes an important cooking ingredient, either in the (tender) shoot stage or as a fully grown plant. The tender shoots are sliced into strips and stir fried along with the requisite spices; an “adobo” version also is available.

When the tender shoot grows into the adult stage, the hollow “stems” toughen, but are easy to cut or sliced with a sharp knife or saw. However, very mature bamboo “stems” thicken and become tough even more; these are used in the construction industry and in Philippines culinary arts.

Bamboo is useful all over the world in one form or the other. In ancient times, huts, cots and cudgels were made of it. Many things still are being produced from its wood. These include brooms, baskets and tea cups. The plant flourishes in both hot and damp climates.

It grows well in jungles, situated adjacent to sea, rivers and marshy lands. Before 1971, all the requirements of bamboo were brought to Pakistan from the Eastern Wing (now Bangladesh. Now, it is imported either from some other Asian countries.

Most bamboos are grown in a moderately acidic loamy soil. It is a forest plant and does best if organic matter is kept over the roots and rhizomes. Any kind of manure is good, if it is not too hot. It can be planted at any time of the year in areas with mild climates. The plants need extra protection from cold and dry winds. In very light soils, the bamboo rhizomes are usually grown well.

Any soil amendments must be added only in the top foot or so. We must not encourage deep rhizome growth, if we want to contain the bamboo. If the planting is surrounded by a shallow trench eight to 10 inches deep, this can be a cheaper and easier method to control it’s spread.

Bamboo is also being grown in Sargodha, Faisalabad, Jhang and other districts of Punjab on commercial scale. Plants are seen in gardens but their cultivation as a crop has not been successful. Moreover, bamboo is harmful to fruit trees as it is basically a bush.

In fact, bamboo should be grown in damp and sandy land. The country abounds in streams, rivers, canals and ponds around which we find mushrooms growth of sarkandas. We can cultivate bamboo in place of it under the supervision of forestry experts.

The forest experts should undertake a survey of different areas to identify the places suitable for bamboo cultivation. Then, the farmers may be induced to undertake cultivation and provided with necessary facilities.

Bamboo like other plants requires some pruning to maintain its attractiveness. Bamboo culms live only to about 15 years. Once each year we should remove older unattractive culms and cut off any dead or unattractive branches.

We can prune bamboo without fear of damaging. We may cut just above a node, so as not to leave a stub that will die back and look unsightly. If we cut back the top, we may want to also shorten some of the side branches so the plant will look more balanced, not leaving long branches at the top.

The research areas such as growth behaviour, fertilizer response to yield and quality, the development of appropriate technologies for harvesting, seasoning and various other aspects of planting geometry, methods of vegetative propagation, rational period, harvesting procedure and studies on pest and diseases of bamboo are suggested to follow.

Formation of bamboo policy regarding imports, establishment of bamboo raw material-based industries (after assessing local production) and possible subsidies in fertilizers and irrigation and water are further suggestions to encourage the cultivation of this crop.

Most large bamboo can grow quicker and do their best in full sun. They must be given ample water, fertilizer and protection from competitive weeds. They will benefit from a windscreen and light shade when first planted. This is especially true of smaller plants such as Fargesia, Thamnocalamus and Sasas.

In fact, the Fargesias and most Thamnocalamus are happier with some shade during the hottest part of the day. Fargesia and Thamnocalamus are the hardiest of the clump type bamboo. Most other hardy bamboo can spread by their underground rhizomes and this must be taken into account, when planting them.

Whenever, there is any deficiency symptom on the growth of bamboo tree, it must be sprayed with a suitable insecticide in order to control the symptom.

March 27, 2006 on Dawn

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Old Banyan trees near Golra junction railway station

Pakistan Railways Heritage Museum is located at Golra junction railway station near Islamabad, some 1,994 feet above sea level, in the southeast of the Margalla Hills and east of the cradle of Gandhara civilization, the ancient city of Taxila.The station was established in 1882 and upgraded as junction in 1912, connecting Peshawar, Kohat and Havalian. The museum contains many heritage valuables but it lacks the necessary written information about the things put on display, their historic significance and the number of years they have been in use.

But this small classic railway station is very well maintained with all the surrounding area still reminding of the good old days and simple layout especially the majestic banyan trees guarding the main structure from both sides. The trunks of these Banyan trees are painted white. The trees not only provide the much-needed shade but also are home to a number of birds. The atmosphere is serene to the extent that one can sit under these trees throughout the day listening to the chirping birds and occasional typical song of doves.

The century old Banyan trees have been ignored at the heritage point even though they give a majestic look to the museum. Its a need to preserve them.

Buddhist banyan tree in Islamabad

There is a centuries old banyan tree standing in Sector E-7 of Islamabad. The tree is a sacred relic for Buddhists who believe that one of their great monks briefly stayed and worshiped in its shade and blessed it with long-lasting life. The tree was said to have some historic significance for Buddhists and attracted visitors and even tourists from Japan and South East Asia. But now it is noticed several times that some people tried to burn it and had chopped most of its branches. I have taken this bit of news from The daily Times and it is three years old news.

A quote for trees

Time-honored, beautiful, solemn and wise.
Noble, sacred and ancient
Trees reach the highest heavens and penetrate the deepest secrets of the earth.
Trees are the largest living beings on this planet.
Trees are in communion with the spiritual and the material.
Trees guard the forests and the sanctified places that must not be spoiled.
Trees watch over us and provide us with what we need to live on this planet.
Trees provide a focal point for meditation, enlightenment, guidance and inspiration.
Trees have a soul and a spirit.

- Tree Magick by Lavenderwater

A brief note on Unani Medicine

Unani Medicine is still common all over in Pakistan and for understanding the medicinal values of Plants, it is necessary for me to also compiled some information on Unani medicine. I have compiled this brief note from three comprehensive websites but the site i really want to mention here is Hamdard as it is the World's largest manufacturer of Unani Medicine in Pakistan.

Unani is Arabic for “Ionian,” which means “Greek.” It is a formal medicine that has been practiced for 6,000 years. Also known as “hikmat,”

'Tibb' means the knowledge of the states of the human body in health and decline of health, or in other words, medicine.

'Tibb-E-Unani', is hence an age old, time tested system of medicine dating back 5000 years to Greece.Unani Tibb Medicine was developed by the Greek physician Hippocrates (40 – 370 B.C.) from the medicine and traditions of the ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The first fundamental theory of the Unani system established by Greek philosopher Hippocrates is founded in the belief that the body of the individual is composed of four basic elements, which together, are called 'Anasir-e-Arba' (Hava, Pani, Mitti, Dhup). When the Mongols invaded Persia and Central Asia many scholars and physicians of Unani fled to India and Pakistan which was at that time called Indo - Pak Subcontinent.

According to the Unani discipline as it stands today, the human body is composed of 7 natural and basic components called 'Umoor e Tabaiyah' which are responsible for maintenance of health.

Hence, the UNANI System of addressing whole health considers illness as an event serving to cleans, purify, and balance us on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual planes.

Its a brief note on Unani medicine. For further reading, visit these informative websites.
About Unani
Hikmat (Unani Medicine)
Hamdard and Unani

Blue roses

"Blue roses will blossom in the snow,
Before I ever let you go.
Blue roses will grow up to the sky,
Before I ever make you cry."

This time I am sharing with you my love, my impossible love for fantastic blue roses. A book by Ibn al Awam, which was written in the twelfth century, tells us that blue roses were attained by placing a blue dye into the bark of the roots. This process is explained in the book and has been proven to work by Joret, a very knowledgeable french scientist. Blue roses stands for fantasy and impossibility.It is said that the Blue roses traditionally signify mystery or attaining the impossible. They are believed to be able to grant the owner youth or grant wishes. Here I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU A BEAUTIFUL BUT SAD POEM BY Rudyard Kipling mentioning BLUE ROSES.

ROSES red and roses white
Plucked I for my love’s delight.
She would none of all my posies—
Bade me gather her blue roses.

Half the world I wandered through,
Seeking where such flowers grew
Half the world unto my quest
Answered me with laugh and jest.

Home I came at wintertide,
But my silly love had died
Seeking with her latest breath
Roses from the arms of Death.

It may be beyond the grave
She shall find what she would have.
Mine was but an idle quest—
Roses white and red are best!

Blue roses stands for yearning and for hoping for a miracle,new possibilities or opportunities but it is not possible.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Neem tree in Pakistan- A brief note -

The Neem tree grows prolifically throughout South Asia, especially most commonly in Pakistan.It is common fact in Pakistan that the origin of all medical practices are basically based on love, compassion and the care for a fellow human being.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan is home to many rich, traditional systems of medicine. Ayurvedic methods date back to 5000 B.C. Along with the Unani, Siddha and Tibetan systems, they remain an important source of everyday health and livelihood for millions of people. And it is here in South Asia that there are more than 8,000 plant species known for medicinal uses.

But it is Neem tree that is also mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts - and its uses are so varied that this tree is called the "Village Pharmacy" of South Asia. Neem has been widely valued for over 4000 years as a medicine in South Asia. In Persian the Neem tree is referred to as "Azad Darakht-i-Hind", which translates into "the free tree of Hindustan (Indo - Pak Subcontinent)". My main attention is to tell you about the life of Neem tree in Pakistan. It is a common sight in all over Pakistan that a large Neem tree usually stands in the centre of each village and provides shade and cool underneath its branches. In villages there are many benefit uses of Neem tree and it is considered as part of life for centuries.And a glimpse from my past reminds me that the villagers also used the twigs of Neem tree as a natural toothbrush. As I have seen it in my childhood that villagers liked to peel off the bark of the twig and then chew it so that its appear like a soft brush , which then they used to rub around the gums and teeth.

An in the end, I would like to share some lines in praise of Neem's medicinal virtues, taken from an old traditonal proverb:
"The land where the neem tree abound,
Can death, disease there be found?"

Green rose - A sight to behold -

The green rose, though not abundant in nature, is a beautiful sight to behold. But where to find it, I never have seen it in my life.In my opinion if we know the meaning of colours and their properties then its quite easy to know the meaning of flowers. The most significant and popular meaning of the green rose is fertility as the green color symbolizes richness, abundance and bounty.
Green rose also symbolizes self-respect and well being. Being symbolic of all life force, the color green gives a rich meaning to a rose. The freshness of the springtime, the abundance of the rainy season, all is well expressed by the green rose.
A Brief History Of The Green Rose will help us to know that it actually exists.
It was introduced into the flower loving popular culture in 1856 by a British company called Bembridge and Harrison, and has remained a peculiar addition to the rose family ever since.As far as roses go, the green rose is truly a unique specimen and generates not only an incredible, long lasting bloom but also a conversation point.

Now all I can say that the green rose are not yet available to the public but its a need to spread information about the growing of green roses.

I Quote I Echo

"A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people."

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Oak Tree and a myth

Oaks that found in Pakistan are important in ecological terms because they grow only in forests that are mature with plenty of healthy undergrowth in the form of vibrant grasses and bushes and a wide array of specialized tree species. Holly oak is native to the Mediterranean region. The range is from Spain along the Mediterranean fringe east towards western Pakistan. The Holly Oak is a long lived, durable tree that will thrive in almost any location once established and stands up well to strong winds. It provides shade for large areas of the landscape.
This time sharing with you a folklore associated with the god of thunder and it has been said that the fifth day of the week 'Thursday' (Thor’s day) was named after him.
Read this fascinating folklore about the god of thunder.

The Myth

The oak-tree was consecrated to the god of thunder because oaks are said to be more likely to be struck by lightning than other trees.The god most associated with the oak tree is Thor (also known as: Thorr, Thunor, Thonar, Donar, Donner, Thur, Thunar, or Thunaer), who in Norse mythology was the supreme god of thunder and the sky. Thor was the eldest son of Odin, and was second only to him in the hierarchy of the Norse pantheon. He was also one of the most popular of the gods due to his relationship with mankind. Thor is often depicted as a tall, muscular and vigorous man with a red beard. He had an enormous appetite and his ability to eat and drink great quantities is featured in several of his legends. Thor was the principal champion of the gods and the chief protector of humans against giants, trolls, demons and other evil beings. His booming voice and flashing eyes could incite terror in his enemies. He was thought to be good-natured, courageous, benevolent, valiant and always ready to fight to help mankind, but he was also easily irritated and when roused to anger was apt to smash his adversaries to death with a single blow from “Mjolnir” his magical hammer.

Thor was widely worshiped by Norse warriors but was also revered by farmers and peasants because of his capacity to create rain for the crops. Mjolnir the magical hammer was reputedly made by dwarves from the wood of a sacred oak tree, and not only represented the destructive power of the storms Thor created (the fires from heaven), but its image was used as a fertility symbol in marriages (in its connection with rain and crops) and in funerals (as a symbol of death and rebirth), and for accepting newborn children into the community (as a symbol of strength and protection). Such was he revered that the fifth day of the week 'Thursday' (Thor’s day) was named after him.

When travelling Thor rode in a chariot made from oak drawn by two goats, Tanngnjostr (Tooth-gnasher) and Tanngrisnir (Tooth-grinder), and when moving across the heavens dispensing weather, it produced the rumblings of thunder and sparks of lightening from its wheels. Thor and his followers undertook many expeditions to Jotunheim (Iceland) the land of the frost giants, and there erected high-seated pillars of oak. These they used to hallow new ground enabling the gods to protect their people in new lands.

Thor fought many legendary battles against the frost giants defending and protecting mankind as well as the gods. His greatest adversary was the World Serpent called “Jormungand” whose many coils encircled the world. After many battles between them which neither won, they were destined to meet and fight for a final time at “Ragnarok” (the mythical end of the world). At that fatal meeting Thor, the best fighter amongst the gods, succeeded in killing the serpent. However being busy with his own fight, he was too late to aid his father Odin who died fighting the fierce wolf Fenrir. After killing the serpent Thor stepped back and died himself from the poison the serpent had spat at him.

Oak through the ages was revered by many cultures particularly for its protective qualities, and in Britain it still stands proud as the “King of the Forest”. In early Celtic times certain oaks were marked with a protective symbol, a circle divided into four equal parts (symbolic of the four elements - Earth, Air, Fire and Water), this was probably a forerunner of the magic pentacle (an up-right five pointed star in-side a circle, symbolic of the four elements plus “spirit”). Most likely this was an old druidic custom for the druids revered the oak above all other trees, believing it hosted the energy, power and strength of their gods. Due to its size and longevity the oak was known as the “Garden in the Forest”, for it attracts the growth of various forms of plant life.

Taken some data from Oak tree-in worship of trees-


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