Monday, April 27, 2015


 I give local ( KASHMIRI ) names of some common trees found in Kashmir valley .
1 POPLAR … ( safeda ) is known as Fraess’t in kashmiri. “ Yohuy chhukh Fraaess’t huue “ is a common satire used in kashmiri language which means “you are simply tall without much utility “ . This tree has now found much utility in Fruit packaging industry of kashmir .It is also used in Ply board Industry as essential raw material. Accordingly it is now cultivated commercially . Prior to that it was used by poor people for house building in Kashmir valley.
It grows along canals and ponds or wet lands and needs Low water table for its growth. Srinagar Baramulla Road had rows tall poplar trees on both sides that added grace and grandeur to this highway. So are poplars seen along Srinagar Anantnaag Road with a peak concentration near Bijbihara .This peak concentration patch of poplars on the highway looks like a Green Tunnel . The soft cotton like white fluff of poplar seed that floats in the air during late spring / early summer season in Kashmir , has been proving a health hazard lately . 
                                        ( Poplars forming a Green Tunnel  Photo  Autar Mota )

                                     (  Fresh Poplar Plantation  Near Bibihara kashmir Photo Autar Mota )                                              
2 WILLOW … is veer in kashmiri . Veer is a common tree in kashmir’s country side . CLUSTER OF Willows known as VEER-VAAR in kashmiri is a common sight near streams and brooks in Kashmir valley . It grows along rivers , Brooks and streams . It is used as an ideal timber and a graded variety of willow is used for making Cricket Bats . This Cricket bat industry is localized in Bijbihara area of Kashmir valley. Willow twigs or shoots are also used for making baskets, Chairs and other useful domestic items . So many people are engaged in manufacturing these willow items that are marketed within and outside the country . As timber , willow was also supplied through Government Forest depots to consumers . Fresh willow twigs were also used as Miswaakh (teeth cleaning brush ) in Kashmir valley.
                            ( Willows near sindh  stream in Prang Ganderbal  Photo Autar Mota  )
                                    ( Items made from  treated willow shoots  on display  Photo Autar Mota )

3 DEODAAR ( Cedrous Deodara ) or kashmir Cedar is also know as Divdhor in kashmiriThough a high altitude tree, Deodars also grow in low valleys . I have seen some Deodar trees near Harwan as well.It's wood is ideal for making Furniture , Boats , Houseboats , Bridges , Ralway tracks, doors and window frames etc. This is perhaps the best of timbers that is produced in the state of Jammu And Kashmir in terms of utility and durability . Paddy husking mortars or KUNZ was also made of this wood . Deodaar wood is quite expensive and can withstand hot, moist and various other climatic conditions .It is a choice wood for building construction .A resin is also extracted from the roots of this tree that has much commercial utility . At some point of time,  Deodaars must have been available in every part of kashmir valley . I have found that every old building or shrine in valley has plenty of Deodaar wood in its construction . Doda district also used to be a rich source of Deodaar wood . Most of us must have seen Deodaar wood sleepers being moved to Jammu ( Akhnoor ) from Doda, Bhaderwah and Kishtwar using Chenab river as mode of transportation
                                                ( Deodaar Tree source Wikipedia )

Hindus believe that Forests full of Deodar or Devadāru trees are  the abodes   of ancient  sages  who were devoted to the Lord Shiva Shiva.

4 HIMALAYAN BLUE PINE . is known as kaayur or yaarii kull in kashmiri. This is again a high altitude tree . It grows in upper forests and this wood is ideal for making doors , windows and frames and furniture in Kashmir valley .This evergreen  tree can grow up to  a height of 150 feet. It   has a thick grey brown bark.  Kaayur wood is a poor man’s DEODAAR . A poor variety of this wood is also used as Timber and its Charcoal is also ideal. This tree also gives a white resin and the portion with resin is known as Laesh that burns instantly . As timber , Kaayur was also supplied through Government Forest depots to consumers in Kashmir . There is a popular kashmiri saying …” Kaashur Yaar Guvv Kaayur Naar “ or The Burning charcoal Coal of the kaayur timber is a friend of kashmiri .Another kashmiri “ Vunn Tcheinn Yaareinn Daai sundh Sugg “ or the jungle pines are irrigated by god only makes this tree closer to kashmiri life.
This wood decays easily on contact with the soil  .Himalayan pines are also a commercial  source of Turpentine and Tar  .

                                                ( Pine forest Source Wikipedia  )
                                                 (  Pine cones  photo by Autar mota  )

5 NETTLE TREE is known as Bremiji in kashmiri. A tree that grew from a small shrub to a magnificent shady tree in Graveyards and shrines of Kashmir is facing extinction .It gives a small black fruit that is sweet to taste . It is a medicinal plant / Tree .

6 HIMALAYAN SILVER FIR IS KNOWN AS Budul in kashmiri.This wood is preferred by carpenters as it is easier to work on it . It has almost no knots . Budul trees are found in higher altitude forests of Kashmir and as timber , Budul was also supplied through Government Forest depots in Valley. This was an ideal wood to be used for Beams in building construction in Kashmir.

7 ELM is known as Brenn in kashmiri . It is a tall tree that growns in higher altitudes not less than 7000 feet. The tree could be massive to look at . “Yohaai chhukh Brenn Mondd or “ You look like a log of ELM timber “ meaning hard and incapable to be cut or sliced for utility . It was used for making heavy doors of shrines in Kashmir valley. It was also used for making Carts and window frames in kashmir. ELM forests are to be seen in higher reaches around Lolaab valley in Kashmir. Hindus in Kashmir revered this tree and identified it with Lord Ganesha .

8 BIRCH is known as Burza in kashmiri . A quite familiar tree in Kashmir as its bark was extensively used for writing books , manuscripts and making roofs of shrines and buildings . A thick layer of birch Bark was finally covered with thick mud to give the final finish to mud roofed buildings in Kashmir.Hindus also used this bark in various religious ceremonies and rituals .Burza was also close to kashmiri culture and llife.Birch is a deciduous tree that has papery plates of bark. The wood is quite hard . In kashmir , Silver Birch trees are found at a height of 9000 feet and above from sea level generally near meadows .
                                                        ( Birch tree Bark source Wikipedia )

9 FALSE WITCH HAZEL or Hatab in kashmiri. It used to be the most preferred and ideal timber in Kashmiri kitchen. Very heavy and was also known as Iron wood that came from shrubs and small trees .It was also supplied through Government run Timber Depots in kashmiri valley . The twigs of this tree were used in kangri making . MUHUL or pestle that was used in manual husking of rice in homes was made from Hatab while the Husking Mortar or the KUNZ was made from Deodaar wood..This wood was also used for making ladles in Kashmir. This timber gives a little hard variety of charcoal which is also . This tree grow in Coniferous forests of Poonch , Bani , Kupwara , Pahalghaam , Badherwah and Kishtwar .The tree appears to be extinct in Kashmir valley at the moment.
10 MESQUITE TREE ( BABOOL ) or Kikkar kul  is its Kashmiri version  . Kashmiri Kikkar is also closer to the Acacia Nilotica family of trees .The thorny Kikkar tree is  seen in many areas of Kashmir. I saw so many   kicker trees in Bijbihara and kulgam.  Unlike the Desert Babool   , the wood of  kashmirian  kikkar tree   is soft   and easy to work upon. . It used to be called a Poor man’s Building material and would be mostly used for beams . The leaves of this tree are reported to be having medicinal uses as well..

11 KASHMIR CYPRESS or Sarva kull in kashmiri . This is an coniferous, Graceful and ornamental tree that can grow to a height of 50 to 60 feet in kashmir. It is planted in Gardens and Parks and even in private lawns . The seed shedding of this tree is done by dark brown cones that grow on this tree. Kashmir cypress holds its foliage year round.
                                 ( Kashmirian Cypress tree source Wikipedia )

12 THE SWEET CHESTNUT TREE or known as Punjaeb Gour ( Singada ) in kashmiri . I have seen these trees in Dhaara near Harwan and also near Dachhigaam wild sanctuary. The fruit of this tree has a dark brown shell and a soft sweet mass inside it . This fruit is known in Kashmir as Punjaeb Gour or a chestnut from Punjab . The valley also has a wild variety of this fruit known as Horse chestnut or Haan-doon . The outer shell of horse chestnut fruit is light brown and is reported to be toxic and not fit for human consumption. From all accounts , it is presumed that the Sweet Chestnut was brought to Kashmir for plantation during the rule of Dogras may be in late 19th century .The sweet chestnuts are available in Srinagar during Late October and early November and are consumed after roasting them on charcoal.

                                                       ( Sweet chestnuts on a tree source Wikipedia )

13 MULBERY TREE OR Tuell Kull in kashmiri . This tree is seen in every part of Kashmir upto an altitutde of 7000 feet . The leaves of this tree are ideal food for silkworm and hence the tree is quite important in silk Industry. It is a protected tree . Mulberry tree twigs are also used by kashmiri pundits in some religious rituals and ceremonies . The mulberry wood is also used for the doors and agricultural implements like Plough.  This wood is strong ,elsatic and  comes up with  a clean finish.After seasoning , it can be turned and carved that makes it ideal for Making Hockey sticks  ,Badminton or Tennis Rackets .I
As per a rough estimate , there are about 7 lakh mulberry trees in the state out of which more than 3 lakhs are in valley and the remaining in other parts of Jammu Division. The tree has become pivotal and crucial for sericulture development in the state .

14 CHINAR or Booen in kashmiri is a majestic tree . It can grow up to a height of 100 feet from ground and its girth could go upto 40 feet. A cool , shady , friendly , this tree is seen everywhere in kashmir upto a height of 8000 feet from the sea level. It's botanical name is Platanus orientalis. It is found everywhere in Kashmir and even inside lakes ( Char chinar near Chashme shahi and Sona Laenk near Hazrat Bal in Dal Lake) , In river Jhelum ( Near Shadipora sangam ), outside shrines and inside all Mughal gardens of Kashmir.So close is this tree to life and culture of Kashmir , that it finds symbolic mention in poetry as well. Even the saint poetess Lal Ded has used it.I quote
“Kentchun Roenni tchheiyee shihijj Booen
Neruvv Neiburr ta shuhul karuvv”
“For some people , wives prove like the Grand chinar tree
Be near them and you feel the self-assuring cool shade “

Chinar can also grow in plains but does not acquire the height and girth that it has in Kashmir.
 Dr L S Negi Director Agriculture cum Horticulture H. P.  planted two chinar trees on ridge in shimla   long back. Both the trees have grown and look  majestic  now . I saw them on my visit to Shimla . In fact these Chinars are five in number . A large one is inside the ridge park while the other one is just outside it . Two more medium sized chinars are also  inside the park while another small sapling is   growing fast near the  statue of Dr Y S Parmar   .So lovely to see the Chinars  spreading .  And  Dr M S Randhawa also planted some kashmir Chinar trees In PAU Ludhiana and Chandigarh.
                                         ( Chinar Trees on shimla Ridge Photo Autar Mota )
                                ( Majestic Chinar Trees inside Harwan Garden of kashmir Photo Autar Mota )

In Kashmir this tree is home to many birds . Its grand leaves are dried and used as kangri fuel .The tree gives a tough , hard , high quality and expensive wood for furniture industry. Though Chinar is a protected tree in J&K ,yet it is being continuously felled by greedy timber traders and other persons in an unauthorized manner. Kashmiris credit Sultan zain Ul Abdin for extending  and encouraging  plantation of Chinar Trees in  all areas of kashmir valley during his rule .

( Autar mota .........)

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  1. Nice one. Could some one tell me if Red Maple tree can be grown in Kashmir and if so where to get the plants.

  2. I am keen to have god looking trees to make the place look exotic and have no commercial interest.Before I leave the valley I want to have few good trees planted so that they make the place look good and also be of help to next generation. 9906693254

  3. Hi, just wanted to know, what is the tree Haandoon (Kashmiri name) called in English. It is tall and grows fast

  4. Can any one tell me whats alantees called in english

  5. Can anybody tell me whats alentees called in english

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. what's "taanj kul" called in english?

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  9. Very nicely written article glad to read this and of course Kashmir is an awesome place every thing is remarkable thanks for sharing this post.
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