Rare Ginkgo tree finds ‘mate’ in City
After nearly 200 years, this medicinal tree at Lal Mandi has found female counterpart at Raj Bagh making experts optimistic of future reproduction of the rare specie in Kashmir
TARIQ ALI MIR
For some 200 years, there has been a living fossil of a rare medicinal tree –Ginkgo –at Agriculture department’s garden at Lal Mandi in this summer capital. But it was the male tree of the specie, which as per experts, can’t reproduce in the absence of the female.
The Lal Mandi male is believed to have been first spotted in 1971 and since then efforts were on to find its counterpart.
But as the female couldn’t be discovered all these years, the propagation of the specie had been a dream but its realization was turning bleak as the Lal Mandi male tree was turning old, all alone.
But now, the discovery of the female in the lawns of a local, Agha Zahoor has made floriculturists optimistic.
Fida Ali, an official with the department of Floriculture says he discovered the female at the Raj Bagh House.
Giving details he says: “After my transfer to Srinagar from Gulmarg, I saw the Ginkgo at the Lal Mandi garden but was upset as the male couldn’t reproduce alone.”
“But one fine day I learnt that a Ginkgo like plant had been seen at a house at Rajbagh.”
Ali rushed there and found the inputs true. “I was surprised to see another Ginkgo at the house even though the specie isn’t found in the rest of northern India,” he adds.
The official says his spontaneous reaction was to determine the sex of the tree.
“The centre of the male plant smells foul while the female plant has no smell. And this is how I found the tree was female,” he adds.
Ali says in the past some efforts had been made to germinate the plant at Nishat but couldn’t be successful in the absence of the female.
“But now we can reproduce the specie,” the expert opines adding a through study of the Raj Bagh tree had confirmed it of being the female Ginkgo.
He said Ginkgo can’t reproduce unless two the specie mate.
Professor BA Wafai, a Botanist at Kashmir University says, Ginkgo was of immense medicinal value for heart ailments.
Interestingly, he says, the tree leaves resemble human heart and were comparatively heavier than other.
Ginkgo grows around an inch a year, he adds.
Wafai said Ginkgo was mostly found in Japan and European countries.
But it’s very rare for a place like Kashmir, he adds.
Environmentalist Dr Feroze Ahmed Shah said favorable environmental factors could be possible for its presence in Srinagar.
The Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba; in Chinese and Japanese, also spelled gingko, also known as the Maidenhair Tree after Adiantum, is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives. It is one of the best-known examples of a living fossil, because Ginkgoales other than G. biloba are not known from the fossil record after the Pliocene.
For centuries it was thought to be extinct in the wild, but is now known to grow in at least two small areas in Zhejiang province in Eastern China, in the Tian Mu Shan Reserve.
Ginkgos are dioecious, with separate sexes, some trees being female and others being male. Male plants produce small pollen cones with sporophylls each bearing two microsporangia spirally arranged around a central axis.
Female plants do not produce cones. Two ovules are formed at the end of a stalk, and after pollination, one or both develop into seeds. The seed is 1.5–2 cm long. Its fleshy outer layer (the sarcotesta) is light yellow-brown, soft, and fruit-like. It is attractive in appearance, but contains butanoic acid (also known as butyric acid) and smells like rancid butter (which contains the same chemical) or feces when fallen. Beneath the sarcotesta is the hard sclerotesta (what is normally known as the “shell” of the seed) and a papery endotesta, with the nucellus surrounding the female gametophyte at the center.
The fertilization of ginkgo seeds occurs via motile sperm, as in cycads, ferns, mosses and algae. The sperm are large (about 250-300 micrometres) and are similar to the sperm of cycads, which are slightly larger. The sperm have a complex multi-layered structure, which is a continuous belt of basal bodies that form the base of several thousand flagella which actually have a cilia-like motion. The flagella/cilia apparatus pulls the body of the sperm forwards. The sperm have only a tiny distance to travel to the archegonia, of which there are usually two or three. Two sperm are produced, one of which successfully fertilizes the ovule. Although it is widely held that fertilization of ginkgo seeds occurs just before or after they fall in early autumn, embryos ordinarily occur in seeds just before and after they drop from the tree.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 21 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 21 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 22 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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