Hello to everyone in the Metblogs world.
I have just joined the Metblogging team for Karachi, so would like to present a short introduction before I go on with my post. I was born in Karachi, left it when I was 18 to go abroad, lived little more than half a decade abroad, and am now proudly calling myself a Karachiite again. I am an engineer by profession, however I have an avid interest in the city. Especially in its architecture. You can see a website I made at www.historickarachi.com which showcases the heritage of our city. Since this is my first post on metblogs, I would like to start on a somewhat lighthearted note. Lets talk about the Conocarpus.
More specifically, the Conocarpus Erectus — a tree that has taken over Karachi like a storm! A tree? well yes. Karachi’s climate is rather hot and dry. It does not rain here much and there is not a lot of vegetation that can survive here easily without much help and still look fresh and green. Not the Conocarpus! This is one tree that has made its presence felt in the city over the last two years. You can see it everywhere now… especially greening the areas around Shahrah-e-Faisal and Karsaz. But also in many different areas. Bin Qasim Park, Beach Park, Khayaban-e-Hafiz in DHA, University Road near Askari Park, etc. etc. Not sure how it got here, but most probably the CDGK had some part to play in introducing this species to Karachi. And some of us can be pretty resistant to such new stuff… I heard a rumor going around recently that this tree causes diseases :-O Nope. Nothing can be further from the truth. Maybe we should spend a minute and understand it more…
Conocarpus Erectus is not really a tree, but a rather large woody shrub growing up to 40 feet tall. It originates in North America from the edges of swamplands in Florida, which is why it has often times been confused to be a mangrove. It is not a mangrove though, but is a very hardy plant that can survive the hot weather, bad air, bad soils and frequent droughts associated with urban environments very well. Its leaves are very thick and leathery which help it retain its health in the heat, and the plant also grows very well in saline soils. In fact, its salt tolerance is so good that it has been used for the reclaimation of salinity damaged lands. All these qualities make it an ideal plant for Karachi.
Conocarpus has also been used in other regions of the world. This tree-like shrub can be trimmed in a lot of ways and is often used for road-side medians, parking lots, screening hedges, and other landscaping purposes. Kuwait is one country that has made extensive use of the Conocarpus for its landscaping. Another is Hawaii, where it is so prevalent now that it has become naturalized.
In Karachi you can find the Conocarpus in a lot of areas. Particularly in DHA, the soil is naturally very saline (since most of it is reclaimed land) and Conocarpus thrives in DHA much better than any other trees. It has been used to particularly good effect on Khayaban-e-Hafiz where a lot of people have used it to screen their houses from the road. It has also been put to good use on roadside medians on Shahrah-e-Faisal and in the Karsaz area. On the water-front road now, the CDGK has planted lots of saplings where it should be able to grow very well. In fact, it may be a very good idea to plant it all over our beachside. That would make it look very attractive.
If you are a greenery fan, I would suggest that you should introduce yourself and your neighbourhood to the Conocarpus. Make sure that you keep individual trees at least 5 feet apart so that they do not smother each other. Some watering may be helpful in order to help the plant take hold, but otherwise, it should do pretty well on its own. Here’s to a greener Karachi!