Rare Black Pine Found in Sangu Valley of CHT, Bangladesh

Rare Black Pine Found in Sangu Valley of CHT, Bangladesh

I was curious about Black pine while working on a CITES guide book for Bangladesh in 1990. Dr. Ansarul Karim, Professor of Botany, Chittagong University wrote the chapter of CITES guide book on threatened plants of Bangladesh those are in international trade. He told me about the pine plants rarity and its medicinal values. From that time I got interested to locate this plant from Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Whenever and wherever in CTH, I had visited, I searched for the pine but utterly failed to find this rare plant.

I am a wildlife biologist but in my honors course, my subsidiary subjects was Chemistry and Botany. In a later time while working with two famous Botanist, Professor Dijen Sharma and Professor Salar Khan I was inspired to learn more about our rare plants. When I use to go field to study wildlife, I always look into the vegetation in detail. Vegetation is one of the basic ecological component of wildlife habitat. Wildlife use plants as their home, food, security and many other needs fulfilled from the plants. Great Ornithologist Salim Ali said that seeing t a bird separating from its host plant is not enough to know the bird, you required to tell about the plants which was the bird used, taxonomic identification and detail ecology of the plant, only then you became a birder. Dr. Salim Ali defined this way of studying the bird as Field Ornithology and he who added a new section of Ornithology which is known as Ornithophily. The evolution and adaptation of long down curved beaks and bills of pollen and honey eating birds like sunbirds, spider hunter is correlated and evolved closely with the epiphytes, orchids and some other parasitic plants. Dr. Mohammed Ali Reza Khan, a student of Salim Ali also taught me the same through my lifelong wildlife watch with him. Together with Professor Salar Khan and Dr. Ansarul Karim, we searched for rare plants Bangladesh like Rauvolfia serpentia(Sarpagandha), Salix tetrasperma (Indian Willow) and Rosa involucrata (Bengal Rose), Willoughbei edulis Roxb.(Wild Mango) and Wild Palm and able to identify their habitat and population status.

During a recent expedition February and March 2018, in Chittagong Hill Tracts, organized by Isabela Foundation we came across the main habitat of Black Pine and having a good population. Black pine Podocarpus nerriifolius occurs along the Sangu Hill River just on the banks as well as on the dried river beds where the bottom is covered with stones and pebbles. Density is higher at upper elevation of the river where the hill streams fall into main river course. Associated species are Rakta Karobi. Average height is Black pin Bangladesh about 2 meters. The plants here are like hedges, dwarf and bushy in habit.

Bangladesh National Herbarium worked on threatened plants of Bangladesh and published a list of threatened plants. Rashid and Rahman of University of Chittagong, prepared an inventory of two families, the Apocynaceae and Vitaceae, and recognized 28 threatened species facing environmental threats, and suggested sustainable conservation management plan. The study was based on long-term field investigation, survey of relevant floristic literature and examination of herbarium specimens. An enumeration of threatened taxa is prepared with updated field data on conservation status to include into Red Data Book of Bangladesh. There are some remote pockets in CHT Semi-evergreen forest where rare and unidentified plants like moss, fern, lichen, vines, climbers, creepers, orchids, herbs and epiphytes are available.

According to Wikipaedia copilation Podocarpus (/ˌpoʊdəˈkɑːrpəs) is a genus of conifers, the most numerous and widely distributed of the podocarpfamily, Podocarpaceae. Podocarpus are evergreen shrubs or trees, usually from 1 to 25 metres (3 to 82 ft) tall, known to reach 40 metres (130 ft) at times. The cones have two to five fused cone scales which form a fleshy, berry-like, brightly coloured receptacle at maturity. The fleshy cones attract birds which then eat the cones and disperse the seeds in their droppings. There are approximately 97 to 107 species in the genus depending on the circumscription of the species. The name Podocarpus is derived from the Greek, podos, meaning “foot”, and karpos, meaning “fruit”. Common names for various species include “yellowwood” as well as “pine”as in the plum pine (Podocarpus elatus)or the Buddhist pine (Podocarpus macrophyllus)

P. neriifolius, commonly known as black/ brown pine, is a coniferous species native to tropical Asian countries, including India, Nepal, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Fiji, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, China, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar, and the Solomon Islands. The tree grows in evergreen broad-leaved forests and can grow, on average, to 30m tall. It has a yellowish brown bark and a dome-shaped crown. Brown pine is used for making furniture, construction, box-making, musical instruments, carvings, and paper. It is also used as an ornamental tree. Its IUCN Red List status is “lower risk/least concern.”

Male Podocarpus are extremely allergenic, and have an OPALS allergy scale rating of 10 out of 10. Conversely, completely female Podocarpus plants have an OPALS rating of 1, and are considered “allergy-fighting”, as they capture pollen while producing none. Podocarpus are related to yews, and, as with yews, the stems, leaves, flowers, and pollen of Podocarpus are all poisonous. Additionally, the leaves, stems, bark, and pollen are cytotoxic. The male Podocarpus blooms and releases this cytotoxic pollen in the spring and early summer. Heavy exposure to the pollen, such as with a male Podocarpus planted near a bedroom window, can produce symptoms that mimic the cytotoxic side effects of chemotherapy.]

Several species of Podocarpus are grown as garden trees, or trained into hedges, espaliers, or screens. Common garden species used for their attractive deep green foliage and neat habits include P. macrophyllus, known commonly as Buddhist pine, fern pine, or kusamaki, P. salignus from Chile, and P. nivalis, a smaller, red-fruited shrub. Some members of the genera Nageia, Prumnopitys and Afrocarpus are marketed under the genus name Podocarpus.

The red, purple or bluish fleshy fruit of most species of Podocarpus are edible, raw or cooked into jams or pies. They have a mucilaginous texture with a slightly sweet flavor. However, they are slightly toxic and should be eaten only in small amounts, especially when raw. Tolerates drought, deer, disease, seaside Some species of Podocarpus are used in systems of traditional medicine for conditions such as fevers, coughs, arthritis, sexually transmitted diseases, and canine distemper.[11] A chemotherapy drug used in treatment of leukemia is made from Podocarpus. The wood of the plant is also widely used inPaneling, Musical instruments, Furniture, Carving


Status of the species as stated by CITES and IUCN are as follows.
Listed: Appendix III
Endangered Status
Lower Risk/Least Concern

Reference and Information Source
M Harun-ur-Rashid, M Enamur Rashid, M Atiqur Rahman (2014) Inventory of threatened plants of Bangladesh and their conservation management. International Journal of Environment Vol.3(1) 2014: 141-167
Farjon, Aljos (2010). A Handbook of the World’s Conifers. Leiden: Brill. pp. 795–796. ISBN 9789004177185.
Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
Earle, Chris J.: Podocarpus. The Gymnosperm Database. 2013.
Ornelas, J. F.; et al. (2010). “Phylogeography of Podocarpus matudae (Podocarpaceae): pre-Quaternary relicts in northern Mesoamerican cloud forests” (PDF). Journal of Biogeography. 37: 2384–96. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02372.x.
Barker, N. P., et al. (2004). A yellowwood by any other name: molecular systematics and the taxonomy of Podocarpus and the Podocarpaceae in southern Africa. South African Journal of Science 100(11 & 12), 629-32.
Earle, Chris J.: Podocarpus elatus. The Gymnosperm Database. 2013.
Earle, Chris J.: Podocarpus macrophyllus. The Gymnosperm Database. 2013.
eFloras: Flora of China. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA. 1999. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
Ogren, Thomas (2015). The Allergy-Fighting Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. pp. 171–172. ISBN 978-1-60774-491-7.
Abdillahi, H. S.; et al. (2011). “Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tyrosinase and phenolic contents of four Podocarpus species used in traditional medicine in South Africa”. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 136 (3): 496–503. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2010.07.019. PMID 20633623.

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