Even in sizzling heat, Amaltas flowers blossom
ISLAMABAD, June 24: While it looks like raining fire in the dry and sizzling summer months, Amaltas is among the handful of trees and plants in the capital that bear flowers under the conditions when mercury is floating around 40 degrees Celsius.
Compared to many parts of the country which give a dusty and barren looks in the summer, Islamabad is among the very few places that are greener in summers than any time of the year due to the vast variety of trees and well-maintained grassy grounds.
But even in the federal capital, the soothing effects of looking at flowers is limited to mainly three plants and trees most notable
of them being the shinning golden yellow flowers of Amaltas (cassia fistula).
As the dry summer begins to peak, almost all the varieties of flowers fade off by end of May, but the flowering of Amaltas continues to increase from the start of June and continues till the arrival of the monsoons in July.
Despite the delicate and puffy looks, these Amaltas flowers hanging like grapes are sturdy enough to stand the violent summer storms and floats around the tree as the breeze blows.
Apart from Amaltas, the other attractive varieties in these months are bogenvelia, China rose and crape myrtle that one can find at various spots in the federal capital bringing relief to the eyes of onlookers with pink, red and purple flower shades at a time when streets are reflecting mirages.
However, the credit also goes to the residents who do not damage trees and pluck flowers. “We can only manage the greenery but the citizens actually maintain them and one can see that even children do not break branches just for fun,” said an official of
Amaltas flowers accompanied by long tube-like buds containing seeds have numerous medicinal values too, that were used in traditional medical systems ‘hikmat’ and Amaltas flowers were also used to make sweeteners in South Asia prior to the arrival of candies and toffees.
Having strong reddish wood which is hard and heavy – the Amaltas tree can grow up to 40 feet, making it more attractive in the summer – the enchanting beauty of Amaltas tree has not gone unnoticed by the city managers and as a policy it has been decided by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) that the future plantations would be local varieties only.
The decision has been made to gradually replace paper mulberry which is the main source of pollen allergy, while Amaltas is a native ornamental tree. Its extended branches are also a source of firewood for the local villagers.
Meanwhile, an official of CDA said collecting woods and trimming trees actually added to the beauty of the federal capital as all the dead wood was cleared.
“We keep an eye on things but there is a kind of understanding with local villagers as they collect broken twigs and cut some shoots and branches. This is healthy for the trees, gives a better look and save some time and energy for the CDA too as this job should be done by us.”
To give the city the looks of more natural beauty, the CDA has also decided to plant trees with different flowering cycles, as the mix of large and small, deciduous and evergreen flowering trees will create a beautiful scene in all the seasons.
To make Islamabad greener, the civic agency has set the target of planting one million saplings annually, focusing on indigenous species, especially fruit and flowering trees, including pine varieties, kachnar, Amaltas, neem, jacaranda, olive and jaman etc.