Wildlife: Gift from God
Jasmine, the ‘National Flower of Pakistan’, is one of those taken for granted indigenous species which really does deserve a very large measure of respect as it tolerates far more than many other plant species would even consider!
For example, jasmine is an increasingly popular roadside and central road divider shrub, with both the very fragrant white flowered and the blazing sunshine yellow, double flowered species, thriving in levels of atmospheric and vehicular pollution that would be instant death to less robust shrubs. This hardy shrub, also found in climbing forms, will also survive some fairly long periods of drought and, even if it dies back for a while as a result, as soon as water, be this rainfall, heavy dew, high humidity or irrigation water, is made available, the plants quickly grow back from the roots, turning green and beginning to blossom again in no time at all.
Called ‘chambeli’ in Urdu, there are two basic species of jasmine that flourish in almost all parts of the country with just very arid and desert regions being the exceptions. There are also numerous introduced and hybridised species of jasmine that are very popular with gardeners and which are often used in parks and other green belt areas, but these ‘improved’ varieties are not as hardy or drought resistant as the indigenous ones that have developed, over centuries, to withstand climatic and soil conditions here. The indigenous species also have much more inbuilt resistance to common pests and diseases than the introduced ones and, while they may not be as perfumed, the wild yellow ones are not fragrant at all. And these should be planted rather than the less hardy ones.
Jasmine, or ‘jasminium’ to give it its botanical name, withstands all kinds of weather, from intense heat to intense cold. Jasminium humile, the yellow flowered variety, is indigenous to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Kashmir, India and China and jasminium officinale, the white flowered, fragrant one, is indigenous to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, South Europe, Kashmir, Bhutan, Tibet and China and can be found at higher altitudes than the yellow flowered one.
Jasmine flowers on and off throughout the year, but take a well deserved break in the depths of winter in cold areas of the country. The beautiful flowers are much loved by bees and butterflies and are followed by small berries which start out green and slowly ripen to a deep purplish black. Birds are very fond of these berries and gobble them up as fast as they ripen. The tiny seeds hidden away inside the berries are not digested by the birds, but pass through their stomachs intact and are then spread around, in bird droppings which act as fertiliser, to pop up all over the place which, when you think about it, is perfectly wonderful indeed!