A single 100-year old Al-Sarh tree was found in Abu Dhabi last year…

A member of the same botanical family as the emblematic ghaf, the Al-Sarh is extremely rare in the UAE. Previously thought to be exclusive to the rocky hinterlands of Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE, a single century-old tree was found in Abu Dhabi last year.

Spotted in the Malaqit area, east of Al-Ain, near the border with Oman, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) lept into quick conservation action.

Speaking about what happened after the discovery, HE Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, EAD’s Secretary General, said: “Following the directives of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, EAD has made numerous attempts to propagate the Al-Sarh tree.”

“We have propagated these trees in our nursery in Al Dhafra region, which provided the initial batch of 25 plants rehabilitated within Jebel Hafit National Park.”

The EAD created special incubators for the conservation project, to help shield the saplings from the extremities. Kept in the shade and provided with irrigation, the seeds were given the best possible start in life, away from competitive stresses.

Interventions of this kind are necessary when species are on the brink of disappearing in the region. And although they do have artificial access to water now, it will gradually be scaled back to allow the trees to stand on their own.

The EAD’s breeding programme will continue, along with a commitment to replant the trees in appropriate areas.

An Al-Sarh line up of facts and figures

Before we leaf you in peace, Ahmed Al Hashemi also of the EAD has provided some fascinating factoids about this plucky species which are well-worth a read.

The UAE represents the very eastern edge of where this tree grows naturally, “The Al-Sarh tree is considered a native species of Africa as well as being part of the Arabian Peninsula within the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Palestine, the Republic of Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman”.

Regarding the anatomy of the tree itself, Al Hashemi explains: “[the] Al-Sarh tree, is an evergreen tree with a height of approximately 8 meters. It has small oval- shaped leaves which are densely clustered on the branches giving them a dense crown and providing excellent shade when its mature. Its single, radial flowers form in January and February and then transform into small fruits that ripen during March and April.”

Images: Provided/WAM