Egypt: Trees in Egypt

In the Shade of Trees

by Egyptian Government

Egypt's land before the dawn of history was teeming with trees. Of these trees are the petrified forests that are near the Giza pyramids and beside El Mokattam plateau. Egyptian Pharaohs planted trees and took care of them. They brought ebony wood from the Sudan, pine and cedar from Syria.

Also Egyptian Pharaohs planted sant tree, sycamore, lotus fruits and willow. At the time of the Crusades, Egypt had paid more attention to cultivating wood trees, to build marine fleet. There were 20,000 feddans of trees cultivated on both sides of Nile from Gerga to Aswan. The Ayobians planted forests in Upper Egypt from Beni Swif to Assuit. By the end of the Crusades, there were little attention paid for planting wood trees, until Mohamed Ali El Kabeer took the reign of Egypt. He was concerned about planting wood trees to build the Egyptian fleet.

At present there is great attention paid to cultivating trees on the farms' borders, road sides, canals, drainage, around villages, on the sandy hills near the Mediterranean shores, especially the multi-purposes trees, such as sycamore, mulberry, lotus and others.

These trees give fruits and are wind shields; providing shade, air purification, producing wood for the purposes of carpentry, fuel and making coal.

Following are hints about some of these trees:

The History of Sycamore in Egypt

Sycamore trees have been cultivated since a very long time. Pharaohs called them Nehet. The oldest sycamore tree in Egypt is in Matarria and is known as Virgin Mary Tree. Sycamore tree lives long and bears sun exposure and humidity. Ancient Egyptians used them in making the wood monuments, such as the statue of the chief of the village from the Fourth Dynasty. In the time of Mohamed Ali El Kabeer, sycamore tree was used in making the bases for artillery units.

Sycamores exist in all Egyptian districts of Delta and Upper Egypt, also in the oases. It is considered a popular fruit in villages. Sycamore wood has special characteristics if immersed in water. It is used frequently in making water wheels, water wells and also agricultural tools. These trees are beautiful and shady, so they are cultivated on wide road sides.

Sycamore is an ever green large tree. Its height reaches 20 meters, when it is fully grown. Its branches spread horizontally over a diameter ranging 15-20 meters, therefore it is planted in 15-20 meters spacing. The fruit is carried on special branches that come from green branches. Flowers appear in sycamore when the age of the tree is ranging from 5 to 6 years old. Sycamore fruit is like fig in form and structure.

There are three main seasons for sycamore: the first season in the beginning of April, the second in the beginning of May and the third in the beginning of June. The fruit continues meagerly, especially in winter and autumn. An operation is usually run for fruits called circumcision in the early morning or afternoon when the age of the fruit ranges for 20 to 25. They make splits in the tops of fruit whose diameter extends from 1.5 to 2 cm2.

As the sycamore doesn't give seeds in Egypt so its proliferation is effected by transplants planted at the end of February and in March. This is the appropriate time for proliferation of trees. Sycamore grows fast under conditions of earth humidity. When the tree reaches the age of proliferation, the cultivators make circle around the tree by beating. Kinds of sycamore are:

1- The Turkish sycamore which is huge and is horizontally proliferated. The leaves are broad, with short neck. The fruit is large in size with 4.5 cm diameter which ranges from 6 to 7 cm and the color is carnation and its taste is good.

2- The Dog Sycamore is called Arabian. It proliferates less than the first kind. Its fruit is small in size, pear-like in form with fade color. The harvest is late as compared to the Turkish sycamore.

The Mulberry Tree

The origin of Mulberry in Egypt is the north of China. From there, its trees moved to Central Asia, Afghanistan, north of India, Pakistan, Iran and the Middle East. The word mulberry is likely to be originally Indian, but then moved to Persian and Arab. There was more interest in mulberry at the days of Mohamed Ali El Kabeer.

The plantation of mulberry succeeds in the moderate areas and the semi tropical. Its trees are grown in different kinds of land. It is spread all over Egyptian urban areas, around roads, fields and canals. The cultivators care for mulberry tree for the purpose of silk worm growing, which gives a big additional income.

Mulberry fruit is tasty, containing 11% sugar, 1.5% protein, 1% organic acid. The fruit is eaten fresh or used in making jam or juice. Mulberry trees are used in manufacturing some home sets and also paper. Mulberry tree has a medium size, its height in full growth is 10 meters, the diameter of base is 80 cm.

Mulberry leaves are oval and have pointed edges. The length of leaf ranges from 7 to 14 cm and its width from 5 to 10 cm, but they fall in winter. The fruit grows up in the beginning of spring, its color is greenish yellow. Mulberry is of two kinds; male and female, bind in the form of hangings from the armbits of leaves. Its fruit is compound carried on fruit flesh stand. The yield of a fully grown tree is 40 kg annually. The trees are used to get leaves that are used to feed the silk worms.

Mulberry is proliferated by seeds that come from fruit after ripping in April and May, by pressing the fruit on sieve made of wires. The fruits are spread in shade until the seeds are dry and then cultivated directly.

It is possible to extract the seeds by putting some of the ripe fruits in a mixer full of water. The mixer is run for 1-2 minutes, the seeds are sedimated in the bottom, collected, washed, dried and kept till the seeds are cultivated in a special container. In the next January, enormous quantities are transferred at the rate of nine in the two tubes and planted on spaces of 50 cm. After a year, it is moved to the permanent place.

The mulberry may be proliferated by reeds that are taken in winter trimming after the leaves fall. The knobs of length 40 - 50 cm and 100 knobs each, are linked in a bundle and stored till cultivation, by turning upside down in ditch and they are covered with wet soil. The knobs are cultivated during February and kept for a year. They are transferred in next February to the permanent place.

The proliferation of some kinds of mulberry, such as Horny, Roman and Japanese is effected by enormous quantities of the white mulberry on height 2.3 cm from each surface.

Mulberry grows in all kinds of soil even the salty. The trees are cultivated in a permanent place with 7 cm distance. The trees are irrigated during the whole year according to the need, to keep the soil watered with the appropriate amount of humidity. The irrigation is prohibited during fruitation in spring and during winter. Mulberry trees are left for growth spontaneously without cutting. The growing of trees can be effected by covering or shortening the main branches to limit the trees height, removing the dry branches or infected ones.

During the cultivation of silk worm, the trees are planted at a distance of 2 cm and are surrounded from the beginning beside earth surface. This is repeated annually to get many branches.

Kinds of mulberry are:

1- The Horny Mulberry whose trees are strong and good for shading and getting wood. Its fruits are either white or black. They are ripe in the second half of April. Some trees don't carry fruits and are called (male mulberry). They grow strongly.

2- The White Roman Mulberry is a medium size tree whose fruits are large, white and are ripe in June.

3- The Japanese Mulberry is regularly from a tree which grows strongly; the leaves are broad and grossy. The fruits have no economic importance, but the leaves are appropriate for silk worm growth.

4- The American Mulberry has trees which are strong, leaves are broad, fruits are red and large in size. They proliferate by knobs.

5- The Grozia Mulberry is a kind improvised by the institute of silk research in Gorgia Republic. It suits the food needs for silk worm more than the other kinds.

6- The Black Roman Mulberry's tree slowly grows, with tall branches, large fruits, black, with secretions. They are ripe at the beginning of July.

The Lotus Tree

The original native place of lotus tree is south Europe and Hemallaya moutons north of China. It is naturally grown in Egypt in the Sinai peninsula, Elba mouton, Nubia, besides Ethiopia and the Arabian peninsula. One of the largest valleys in Sinai is known as the Valley of Lotus, as it is cultivated in Egypt since the oldest ages.

It was known to the Egyptian Pharaohs as Nebes. In the past in Egypt, lotus fruit was cultivated in all houses, in their court yards. Lotus trees nowadays grow in Upper Egypt. They are shady and the wood is used for making agricultural tools, furniture and also in building.

The lotus fruit is tasty and has nice odor; most of Egyptians like to eat. The lotus tree slowly grows with large branches, with height 3 cm from the surface. The leaves are permanently green. They are oval and glossy. The neck of the leaf is reddish green. The branches are hanging with sharp small nails. The fruits are small, yellowish green. They are grown in autumn, and are small, like apple in shape. Its diameter is 2 cm. It is tasty when ripe.

Inside the fruit, there is strong seed. The fruits have two main crops; one in spring and the other in summer but it is less important. Some kinds of lotus are relatively large in size.

The proliferation in lotus fruit is effected by seeds, cultivated in flower pots. They are kept there till cultivation in the permanent place. The seeds are cultivated in the permanent place directly as the seeds are put in small pots with soil, then irrigated till growth. After growth, the numerous quantities of seeds are decreased to one, which is the strongest.

The lotus trees are planted at the agricultural roads sides, 10 cm distance between each. The excellent races can be proliferated with vaccination takes place in spring and autumn.

The Doom Palm

The original native country of doom is the Congo. It is also grown up in the desert of Hegaz. Doom trees are planted on the Nile banks in Nubia, and the Dakhela and Kharja Oases, also in Dandara, facing Qena, Aswan and in the Sudan in Kerdefan.

Doom cultivation flourished at the days of Pharaohs. It was called Mama en Khenet. Doom trees were formed with the monuments in the age back to 1500 years BC. Doom tree branches are used as ceiling for buildings, because they are stronger than palm tree branches, as they are closely mixed and interlaced. Doom is able to bear the effect of water. The Pharaohs got benefit of this property, so they used doom tree branches as floating passages over the River Nile.

They also are used in building the floating bridges. The fibers of doom are used in ropes and baskets. Also a refreshing juice is extracted from doom by infusing it in water after removing the peel.

Doom trees are a beautiful view and can be planted in the public gardens as decorations.

Broadcast of seeds take place in March and they are sprayed till they sprout a year later. These are mere examples, but Egypt has much more of these trees which dare time.