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Adored Chir Pine Tree

This time Shubhi’s blog will feature my really adored Chir pine tree and whose cones make me swoon. I collect them from the forest floor


A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree …….By Joyce Kilmer

Pinus roxburghii commonly known as long-leaved pine or chir pine is one of the most important conifers in the Himalayan region (Tiwari, 1994), which moulds the life of various ethnic and other communities of the region. Chir pine is a tall tree of about 55 m and over 100 cm dbh.

The chir pine of Uttarakhand: the most beautiful conifers and why they are considered dangerous

The effects of pine trees in the Himalayas.

The Pinus roxburghii or Chir pine trees are being called the Dangerous Beauties

Forest Fires — The pine needles are highly inflammable and are the leading cause of forest fires in the region. Being fire-resistant, pine tree doesn’t burn in this fire and sheds leaves again next year, continuing this cycle every year.

Lack of Water Retention — Because of the lack of bacteria, the water holding capacity of the soil decreases. Unlike areas which have a lot of oak trees, the region with the pine trees is mostly drought-prone and women have to walk sometimes 10 km to get the water for their normal use.

No Bacterial Growth, thus Degraded Lands — Because of the pine presence, bacterias in the soil die and are replaced by a parasitic fungal relationship which only helps pine thrive and grow, and takes away resources available for other plants which could possibly grow.

Biodiversity Loss — Due to the forest fires every year, a lot of animals and useful plant species which are not fire resistant die leading to fauna and flora loss in the region.

No Use for Livestock — Pine needles are not used as a cattle feed, or bedding material for the livestock of the people, thus it is
effectively of no use to the locals for their animal welfare.

The chir pine trees, which are often blamed for forest fires, have in fact helped in retaining the green cover of the Himalayas By Varsha Sing

Uses of chir

Humans encountered pines and other conifers in many places across the globe. In comparison to deciduous trees, which shed their leaves in fall, most conifers remain green and were re-assuring. Only evergreen oaks rated as high as pines with early human societies who worshiped pines as they worshiped other wonders of nature. Chir pine forms the community with oaks but the larger area in the study area was under monoculture community of chir pine forests. Initially, pines would have been worshiped for themselves. As human civilization advanced, nations were formed and temples built, humans continued to worship pines as one of most sacred trees (Mirov and Hasbrouck 1976).

The uses of chir pine as a timber and fuelwood are among few major indigenous uses of this species in Uttaranchal. The daily life of middle Himalayan human communities are revolved around the chir pine forests right from the birth. The major fuel is required for cooking is obtained from the chir pine. The livestock use to feed on the under story plant species inside the chir forest. The chir pine seeds are edible and source of edible oil extraction. Globally, approximately 29 species of Pinus produce seeds, which have been used as a food item, at least by indigenous tribal cultures (Mirov and
Hasbrouck 1976). In Kumaon region, the needles like leaves of chir pine are used for
livestock bedding mostly during rainy season to prevent livestock from contaminated water and so that from various diseases. The blacksmiths, those are basically come under the low caste communities, use bark of chir pine for melting metals and designing various kinds of utensils.

The small chips of resinous wood of chir pine was slashed those are called as chhilla in
Garhwal. In past, when kerosene oil was not introduced in Uttaranchal the chhilla was used for lighting. At present, various shapes of twisted wood are used for decorative items. About 80% of the chir pine in Kumaon and Garhwal region is twisted pine and thus provided varieties of shapes. The cones of chir pine are generally collected for two purposes, collection of seed for reforestation and for decoration. Traditionally, the
cones of chir pine have also been used as the firecrackers during the occasion of Dipawali, a festivals of lightings. Cones can also be used as a fire starter in fireplaces or crushed and moulded into presto-log shapes (Thomas and Schumann, 1992). In some areas, cones are made into curio items for sale to tourists. For example, in the foothills of the Uttaranchal Himalaya the cones of chir pine are fashioned into birds and sold in local markets. Perhaps the ultimate form of using pines in art is the ancient Japanese tradition of bonsai. Bonsai is a three dimensional living art form in which tree is subjected to special growing techniques and the application of principles of design to develop them into miniature objects d’art (Stowell, 1966). Many species of pines are popular plant materials for bonsai

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