Jabal al Akhdhar is a mixed bag of surprises where natural vegetation
is concerned. Plant cover is very sparse. Yet amid the harsh magnificence
of these mountains grow a diverse range of fruit trees and a melange
of shrubs and plants that are part of a unique natural heritage unseen
anywhere else on the Arabian peninsula.
orchards here, nourished by virgin mountain springs, grow the finest
variety of fruits — pomegranates, pears, walnuts, apricots, peaches,
plums, grapes, sweet limes, figs, olives, and for the first time on
experimental basis, even apples. The list gets even longer with time,
as new types of Mediterranean fruit are sought to be added to this exotic
mix, thanks to the splendid temperate weather of the jebal during summer.
pomegranate is doubtless the most lucrative of the jebal's fruit crops,
fetching the major chunk of a farmer's income from agriculture.
prized though is the walnut, which is ranked only next to the pomegranate
as a much-valued cash crop. Walnuts are unique to Al Jabal al Akhdhar,
one of many unique aspects of the Sultanate's natural heritage.
scores of walnut trees scattered around the jabal, mainly growing in
the vicinity of mountain springs or wadis. Most are concentrated however
in three villages — Saiq, Al Menakhar and Wadi Bani Habib.
other fruit crops cultivated in the jebal, walnuts are harvested around
dried and stored, to be sold mainly during the habta or traditional
pre-Eid markets. Demand for Omani walnuts is especially good during
the habta, drawing scores of sellers to these markets as far afield
as Sarur, Bid Bid, Samayil and Fanja.
a two-day trek on foot to these markets, carting along sack-loads of
walnuts for sale. In small quantities they are also sold in souqs in
Nizwa, Bahla, Rostaq and elsewhere.
per 25 whole walnuts, returns are especially attractive.In times past,
the inedible, fleshy part around the walnut was used as a traditional
cure for scars and open wounds, local villagers recall. An extract obtained
from the fruit was used as a kind of alcohol-free tincture for application
to skin injuries.
fruit harvest also includes black grapes — a sweet, jebali variety which
grow in bunches in small vineyards alongside pomegranates. The grape
crop precedes pomegranate cultivation in Al Jabal al Akhdhar. Harvest
is around September along with pomegranates.
also feature pear trees — a relatively new entry in the jebal's list
of locally grown Mediterranean fruits. Deliciously succulent and sweet,
pears grow to almost twice the size of normal imported varieties. Local
pears are juicier as well, because they are picked when naturally ripe,
unlike imported ones that are harvested prematurely to allow time for
despatch to consumer markets.
sample the full measure of Al Jabal al Akhdhar's bounty, a visit to
the local farm of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is a must.
On a seven-acre farm in Saiq village grows perhaps the most diverse
range of fruit trees: hybrid pomegranate varieties, apricots, plums,
peaches, several varieties of pear, fig saplings imported from Jordan,
wild olives, and even almonds.
here are apple trees being cultivated on an experimental basis.Elsewhere,
in farms and orchards around the jebal, farmers grow garlic, lemons,
turmeric, corn, wheat and some varieties of beans, further enriching
the diversity of cultivation here. Also growing in the wild are the
famous boot trees of Al Jabal al Akhdhar, again a unique element of
the Sultanate's natural heritage.
trees, which produce sweet red berries coveted in villages and towns
of the Interior region, grow on the precipitous slopes of the jebal,
making berry-picking a particularly hazardous task. During the harvest
season spanning the July-September months, nimble-footed villagers scour
remote mountain ridges for the boot tree.
mountain berries continue to be in great demand, the takings are usually
very good. The wild fruit is sold in souqs in Nizwa, Bahla, Rostaq,
Samayil and Seeb. Aside from its rich heritage of fruits and nuts, Al
Jabal al Akhdhar also boasts a veritable hoard of shrubs and plants
highly valued for their medicinal, therapeutic and cosmetic properties.
essence of the yas, a common mountain shrub, is also earning good incomes
for those engaged in the craft. Tradition-minded womenfolk still opt
for yas extracts as a cosmetic and hair conditioner in place of modern
plants like the Al Jadah, Al Qadhaf and Al Hanqalan are an importance
source for traditional herbal remedies which are prized in many Omani
homes. An oil extract of the Al Jadah plant, which grows in the wild,
is recommended in the treatment of stomach ailments and for diabetic
use as well.
of the Al Qadhaf plant, a native of the jebal, is used as a balm for
those afflicted with a paralytic stroke, and for a variety of body-aches
as well. Also, the wild Al Hanqalan plant finds wide application in
the treatment of sore eyes.
Adapted from Oman Observer. Nizwa.NET is not responsible for contents.