This week, our eyes set on the towering personality of the mighty Silver Oak trees. Tall and majestic, these gentle giants have a humbling effect and command respect of those who look up to them. Lined up, they give a feel of being in the hills, by creating a cool and green environment.
Grevillea Robusta or the Silver Oak has come all the way from Eastern Coastal Australia and are quite an income- generator in the Nilgiris in India. Loved by the Hill Mynas, the tree flowers too, with bottle-brush like burnt orange blooms. One of the fastest growing trees in the world, with an age up to 40-45 years and immense value, the Silver Oak gets its name from the silvery effect of the underside of its leaves, reflecting its sheen. Its timber value apart, these trees are a must in coffee plantations for they provide the necessary shade and protection to coffee plants. The Oak also finds use as packing material in the packaging industry. But here in Chandigarh, it is of ornamental value, often found guarding boundary walls of the bungalows and villas of the northern sectors (you will find plenty in Sector 18, Bamboo Valley, Sector 23, Sector 26, the IT Park road). Their regal air and tall stature is an instant hit. However, one has to be careful from mid-December to April-May for, according to the http://www.chandigarh.gov.in website, the Mango Mealy Bug can attack them. The website (under the Greening Chandigarh Action Plan 2014-15) also mentions how to tackle this issue.
They were in abundance in Industrial Area Phase 1 too till the conversion policy introduced by the Chandigarh Administration in 2005 to upgrade infrastructure in these parts led to the felling of trees, including the Silver Oak, in 2007. The widening of roads and coming up of malls led to felling of about 230 trees of different species then. Now, if you drive past Bhushan Industries, Centra Mall and Wave Cinema, you can spot them, standing alone and tired, missing the company of their fellow trees. (For cutting, felling, even pruning of trees, one needs to seek permission from the horticulture department, else one can be booked under the Tree Preservation Act.)