Rare Desert Poplar tree found in Ladakh’s Nubra, reveals expert

Tasaduq Hussain

Srinagar, Nov 20 (KNO): A rare species with immense ecological significance known as Desert Poplar tree (Euphrates Poplar) has been found in Nubra valley of , revealed a senior botanist.

He told the news agency— News Observer (KNO) that Desert Poplar is characterised by its polymorphic rhombic leaves, bearing different shapes of leaves on a single tree.

“Populus euphratica, commonly known as the Euphrates poplar or desert poplar, is a distinct species of poplar tree in the willow family,” he said.

For this reason, he said the tree is sometimes called Diversiform-leaved poplar. “It is found naturally growing in temperate and subtropical climates across the North-Africa, Middle East, and Central Asia to western China,” he said. “In , the tree is found only in some isolated patches in Nubra valley of Ladakh.”

In Nubra Valley, he said that the desert poplar is believed to have been introduced from central Asia by the travelers of the famous silk route that used to connect Ladakh with central Asian countries during earlier times.

He said that Nubra Valley was one of the centers of silk route trade. “The tree is well adapted to the desert ecosystem of Nubra valley characterized by the arid and semi-arid with saline sandy soil along the basins of the famous Shayok River that flows through Nubra valley.”

He said that it is a very rare tree species and holds immense ecological significance.

According to him, it also prevents soil erosion, windbreaker, and provides shelter to birds and other biodiversity.

“It's a medium size tree, grows up to 10-13 metre in height. Cutting it has completely been banned given less population.  It is found on a few patches and some individuals have also spotted it.  It can't be grown or planted given it is very rare and difficult to cultivate,” the plant expert said.

He said that it is locally known as Hotong, and although it is already there but was found after a long time in recent.