Seeing as Horse Chestnut trees don't like excessively dry conditions, I was surprised to find a conker when I went out walking the other evening.
I can only assume that the conker has come from a child's toy box that has recently been sorted with several items making it to the trash.
Having googled 'Do horse chestnut trees grow in Dubai?' I was surprised to see what trees did and didn't grow in these harsh conditions and have spent the last few days wandering around the neighbourhood with my camera looking for and identifying local trees.
I really struggled with online identification and finding a book shop, so hubby and visited the local garden centre where I bought a book on gardening in Oman and the UAE.
Ficus Microcarpa - Laurel Fig
Can be grown in containers or reach a height of 10ms if grown in open ground. A fast growing tree, with shiny leaves that burn in the height of summer. It germinates easily and cuttings grow quickly.
This tree is growing in our garden in the sand.
Washingtona - Mexican Fan Palm, Washington Palm
A slow growing tree reaching up to 4.5m's in around 10 years. The leaves are around 3m's long, however most of these trees in our neighbourhood, including this one in our garden are in poor condition, despite having a high salt and drought tolerance.
As the leaves die off they are cut back and form part of the trunk.
It is self seeding and propagates well from a string of black fruits, each containing 1 seed, from a white flower.
Ficus Religiosa - sacred Bo, Bo Tree, Peepul
A tree sacred to Buddists and Hindus as it is said this is the tree the Buddha gained enlightenment. grows up to 15ms and is fast growing up to 3ms in it's first 2 years.
Prior to mature the leaves are pale pink.
This tree prefers rich soil. But has some salt tolerance, considering this tree is growing in the sand about 1.5kms from the sea.
Cultivates well and is self seeding.
Prosopis Cineraria - Arabic name: Ghaf
Found in the desert, grows well in sand. A fast growing tree reaching 12m's in height and one of the best providers of shade.
Prior to the development of Dubai, these trees were the tallest structures and used as landmarks.
These trees are are an important source of nectar for honey production. In spring the tree produces pale yellow catkin like flowers and slender pods producing small black seeds, which are propagated after soaking the seeds over night and shallow planting. The pods and leaves are also used for animal feed.
For the seeds to germinate they require a temperature of around 25-30c and germinate within 5-10 days. The seedlings need planting out when they are young as the root system can reach depths up to 35m's which helps it stabilise in the sand.
Phoenix Dactylifera - Date Palm. Arabic name: Nakhl
The region produces around 1 million metric tonnes of dates every year. There are 150 varieties of grapes grown in the region.
The leaves are called Fronds and grow up to 6 m's long.
Grown from seed the date tree takes up to 8 year to produce fruit.
Dates are only produced on a female plant, which requires pollination from a male tree usually carried through the wind. In a plantation there is approximately 1 male tree to every 50 female trees. The dates are tied up to prevent damage and take around 6 months to ripen.
In summer a tree in fruit requires 120 litres of water per day.
Leucaena Leucocephala - Speedy Tree
No longer considered a garden plant as it was originally planted to feed cattle and withstands repeated cutting back, making it difficult to keep under control. Self propagating, it's seed pods are packed full of seeds and germinates quickly.
Grows rapidly over 8m's in height.
Ziziphus Spina-Christi - Christ Thorn Tree. Arabic name: Sidr
Grows to a height of 10m's, it is salt and drought tolerant
This tree produces an edible flesh sold at local markets, it smells a bit like an apple, but I haven't tasted it yet as this was a fruit I collected from the ground.
To propagate the seed, it needs to be soaked to rehydrate it and only half bury as it needs light to germinate. Seeds fully planted can take 7 months to germinate. It also requires a temperature of between 25-30c to grow.