Trees and bushes are perennial source of greenery, sometimes evergreen, sometimes leafless, sometimes colourful, sometimes laden with snow. Flowering trees of J&K are many but majestic grandeur of Chinar trees is distinct in the green landscape of Kashmir. Botanically identified as Plantanus orientalis (Oriental Plane), Chinar tree changes moods in changing seasons, colourful to lush green, sometimes laden with sheen (snow). It stands planted in some locations of Jammu as well,it is seen planted in Kishtwar, Bhaderwh, Udhampur and even in Jammu. Willows and poplars also add to the charm, standing as sentinels all along roads, highway and canal banks. Locally called Veer and Frast in Kashmiri and Bedda and Safeda in Dogri, Willows and poplars add considerably to the economy of Jammu &Kashmir.
Mughal gardens of Kashmir Srinagar in particular boast of the appealing evergreen trees like Magnolia grandiflora which gets decorated with snowhite blooms of matchless grandeur during summer months. Jammu city has also added Magnolias in the parks and gardens .Magnolia liliflora/soulangena is another shubby plant bearing maroon flowers during early spring months. Magnolias are exotic to Kashmir but are nicely naturalized.
Sheepberries are wild as well as cultivated shrubs which are important source of wild food for our wildlife. These shrubs and small trees belong to Genus Viburnum. Viburnum grandiflorum, commonly called Kulmaansh in Kashmiri, Teldi or Tyond in Dogri and Guchh in Gojri is common in Shankracharya, Zabarwan, Dachigam, Doda,Poonch,Udhampur forests. When snow is about to melt, these bushes get decorated with fragrant pink blooms attraching all kinds of bees and insects. Its garden relative seen in Srinagar Colonies and parks is Viburnum opulus, commonly called as snowball or Guelder Rose of great handsome beauty. Its grandeur is exhilarating.Viburnum mullaha is also seen in Jammu forests,it is called Sallalan in Dogri,its fruits are blood red in colour.Viburnum cotinifolium is seen in Trikuta hills.
Roses are common shrubs with historic antiquity. Nurjahan who used to adore rose beauty is credited with the discovery of Attar of Roses. Several graden varieties have been naturalized over the years but our wild species are equally impotant as they decorate wilderness. Rosa brunonii commonly called "Musk Rose" is quite abundant in J&K hills and Kishtwar or Dachigam National Park. It is climbing rose with highly fragrant white blooms. Honey bees get attracted in thousands to add flavour to the honey collected. Rosa webbiana is another wild rose bush which produces attractive pink red blooms in the forest glades and shrubberies in our forests. Syringa is beautiful shrub of Kashmir, its wild species Syringa emodi is seen at tourist spots like Toshmaidan, Gulmarg, Sonamarg but stands introduced in Gardens of Kashmir. Department of Floriculture has added Syringa persica (Persian Lilac), Syringa vulgaris and Syringa laciniata to add colour and charm to the city landscape. Hydrangea is most popular garden shrub which bears pink and blue flower clusters arranged as attractive balls to attract visitors.
Buddlejas is a group of Butterfly bushes fondly growing in city landscape of Kashmir. Buddleja davidii is most attractive and is seen throughout.Buddleja asiatica with white fragrant blooms and Buddleja crispa with mauve pink blooms are seen in the wild and are native to Himalayas.
False witch Hazel, Parrotiopsis jacquemontiana commonly called as Pohu or Hatab in Kashmiri grows wild in coniferous forests. It is most common in places like Bhaderwah, Bani, Poonch, Padder, Machel, Machhil, ,Dachigam, Kupwara, Pahalgam. Its utility in Kangri making makes this shrub important for Kashmir economy. Indigofera heterantha is also prized for Kangri making and grows throughout hills in J&K. Indigofera cassioides is another species found in Jammu region.
Wild walnut, Juglans regia is unique to J&K forests, seen commonly in Padder, Dachigam, Gurez forests. Alongwith its wild germplasm, walnuts are cultivated throughout Kashmir. Many cultural traditions are intimately linked with Walnut, commonly called Dun in Kashmiri. Another fascinating tree locally called Hundun or Handoon in Kashmiri,Bankhodi in Pahadi, Goon or Guggu in Dogri is Horse Chestnut Tree which is quite common in mountains. This tree has palmately lobed foliage fondly eaten by Kashmir Red Deer, Hangul, hence its name Handun means Walnut of Hangul. Trees are seen planted at few locations along highway between Khannabal to Batwara and Chashmashahi environs.
Catalpa bignonioides is another flowering tree seen planted in the city Environment of Srinagar. Judas tree is unique in bearing dense clusters of pink purple blooms when it is completely leafless. It has been introduced in Kashmir University Campus and at several places in Nishat, Shalimar and Chashmashahi Gardens of Srinagar.
Hawthorn is another tree which grows in Kashmir and is introduced in gardens for decoration. Botanically called Crataegus songarica, its Kashmiri name is Ringkul or Ring. It is a spiny tree of Rose family Rosaceae and produces white blooms and red fruits. Its another garden variety introduced in Chashmashahi Garden produces deep pink flowers during summer time.Cotoneaster bacillaris locally called Reu,Reunsar is another useful timber tree but also seen under worship at Jyodeaayan Mata Temple at Bani in J&K.Prunus cornuta and prunus cerasoides are wild species in Jammu forests,wood of latter is aromatic and used in religious and medicinal purposes.Prunus tomentosa locally called Bushkand is seen growing wild in Dachigam National Park,its fruits tastes like cherry and are useful for kidney ailments.
Among Acacias, Australian Acacia, False Acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia) and Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) are seen in our city Environment. Oaks are not found wild in Kashmir but several species like Quercus leucotrichopora (White oak), Quercus baloot ( Holly oak), Quercus glauca ( Japanese Oak), Quercus floribunda ( Moru oak),Quercus semecarpifolia (Kharsu Oak ) are seen in forests of Jammu.Quercus robur is seen planted in Dachigam area of Srinagar. Cypress, cupressus sempervirens and Royal Palm, Roystonea regia stand majestic in all old parks and gardens.
Trees are great asset to our surroundings as they add to aesthetic charm, fight vehicular pollution, act as green lungs and do carbon sequestration. Trees when in bloom attract birds, bees, butterflies and beetles for accomplishing pollination to effect seed production for perpetuating their progeny. Trees keep surroundings clean, green and healthy for human beings and add glory and charm to our survival mileu, God's greatest gifts indeed.