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Prof. Dr. Maroof Shah donated two rare species of trees to CIIT Abbottabad

Camphor Tree

A 4 years old Camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora) inhome garden  grown (rehabilitated) from seeds obtained from a more than a century old tree present in Cantonment Park, Abbottabad (courtesy Dr. M. Maroof Shah).  


Cinnamomum  camphora(commonly known as camphor tree, camphorwood or camphor laurel) is a large evergreen tree that grows up to 20–30 m (66–98 ft) tall. The leaves have a glossy, waxy appearance and smell of camphor (Vicks) when crushed. In spring, it produces bright green foliage with masses of small white flowers. It produces clusters of black, berry-like fruit around 1 cm (0.39 in) in diameter. Its pale bark is very rough and fissured vertically.

Camphor is an exotic tree plant that was brought by the English to Abbottabad city and its surroundings during 1859-1869.  The tree is beneficial in production of Vicks oil and was planted to cure various cold and cough related diseases.  It was probably brought to cure the military personnel suffering from lung diseases.  Since it is an exotic plant species to Abbottabad and has not been propagated to the level that is required for a species to become local.  Rather we were making efforts to eliminate the exotic plant species including camphor tree in the name of developments, or in need of wood and lumber.  The greater cause of destroying precious plant trees seems to be the capturing and confiscating of high value land for business purposes.  The camphor tree like others  is certainly under severe threat to be extinct if no measures are taken to protect and propagate.  At current state of knowledge only one significant and fertile tree exists in a public place in Abbottabad city.  It is located on the western side of Jahangir Khan Squash Complex in Cantonment’s built Lady Garden, Abbottabad.   The location marked by the presence of an old Church, the oldest and perhaps the 1st ever constructed road (Pine view), Abbottabad Club, and the  Café Mona Lisa.  This historical site warrants a great heritage of this city further decorated by old historical Camphor and Deodara trees.   The soil under and around the gigantic Camphor tree has shrunk by anthropological activities specially developments by ruthless compromising of the environment.  The construction of Squash Complex was itself a wrong decision in such a limited open air public place for the inhabitants of Abbottabad city.   Instead of widening and preserving this national heritage, and propagating trees species such as Camphor tree, several other buildings were erected in this location further reducing the space for trees and plants.  All these developments are unfortunately unplanned and without any consensus of the stake holders i.e. the residents of this city.  Other than the limited space under the tree, it is being used as a playground by the children.  This is of course not their fault as they were not provided with any playing ground in or around the city.   The camphor tree every year sheds a large number of seeds on ground but majority go astray without germination due to non availability of free soil under and around the tree.  Few succeed to germinate but again due to lack of knowledge and interests by the stake holders, the seeds cannot be transformed into trees.

In an attempt to salvage this important tree species Dr. Maroof Shah collected several tiny plants (2 leaf seedlings) from under the camphor woody tree located on the above mentioned site.  Two of these were donated to and planted during 2016 plantation campaign in front of “A” block of COMSATS Abbottabad (Tobe camp) campus.  

Norwegian Ash Tree (Fraxinus)

A 4 years old plant of Norwegian Tree grown from seeds in home garden at Kaghan colony Abbottabad  (courtesy Dr. M. Maroof Shah)



English name ash, is a genus of flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae.  It contains 45–65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The genus is widespread across much of Europe, Asia and North America.

The tree's common English name, "ash", goes back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name originated in Latin. Both words also mean "spear" in their respective languages. The leaves are opposite (rarely in whorls of three), and mostly pinnately compound, simple in a few species. The seeds, popularly known as "keys" or "helicopter seeds", are a type of fruit known as a samara. Rowans or mountain ashes have leaves and buds superficially similar to those of true ashes but belong to the unrelated genus Sorbus in the rose family.

Ash is a hardwood and is hard, dense (within 20% of 670 kg/m3 for Fraxinus americana, and higher at 710 kg/m3 for Fraxinus excelsior), tough and very strong but elastic, extensively used for making bows, tool handles, baseball bats, hurleys and other uses demanding high strength and resilience.

In year 2010 few seeds of Norwegian Ash trees along with some other plant species were handed over to Dr. Maroof Shah by a staunch friend of environment and Abbottabad’s heritage Mr Mahmood Aslam, The seeds were planted right away in pots at his home garden in Kaghan Colony Abbottabad and about 10 seedlings were obtained in the same year.  It is very interesting to note that few seeds germinated even after a year or two, indicating slow germination after dormancy in this tree species.  He has been successful in obtaining quite a reasonable number of plants in the following years as shown in the figure above. These small trees are in pots at his home garden and one of these was donated and planted in front yard of “A” block of COMSATS Abbottabad (Tobe camp) on March 9, 2016. 

Professor Dr. Khan Gul Jadoon, Dr. Amjad Hassan, Prof. Dr. Maroof Shah, Mr. Aqeel Abbas, and students of Biotechnology were present at the occasion. The trees were planted in hopes to retain the species of trees in Abbottabad and have them flourish. 

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