TREES found ON TREKS IN NEPAL
Trees play a vital role in Nepal’s ecosystem, culture, and economy. The ancient forests of the Terai and the pristine woodlands in the Himalayan region are Nepal’s true treasures.
Population growth, urbanization, and demand for timber and firewood have led to extensive forest degradation. However, the Nepalese government and numerous NGOs have been actively involved in conservation efforts. Community-based forestry programs have been implemented to involve local communities in sustainable forest management. Bans and restrictions on tree felling have been imposed. And reforestation and afforestation initiatives have been undertaken to restore degraded areas. These efforts are gradually showing positive outcomes.
Nepal’s diverse geography, with its varying altitudes and climates, gives rise to a wide range of tree species.
Some of the Trees found on TREKS in Nepal – the highlands of Nepal (we will add photos):
- Rhododendron: More than 30 species of Rhododendron can be found in Nepal. Of these, Laligurans or Guras (Scientific name: Rhododendron arboreum) is the national flower of Nepal. Various species adorn many trekking routes in the country ranging from 6,000 feet to 15,000 feet. Rhododendrons can be found in all the trekking trails of Nepal including but not limited to Annapurna, Langtang, Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu etc.
During the spring season, these vibrant and colorful trees create a breathtaking spectacle, with shades of pink, red, and white painting the hillsides. The most famous Rhododendron forest is on the Ghorepani trek. For more about Rhododendrons, click here.
- Oak (Quercus): Oaks are hill species but some can be found higher at around 11,000 ft. In many parts of Nepal they are the dominant tress in a forest. Sometimes they are the only trees in a forest and in others they may be found mixed with Conifers and Rhododendrons. Trekking through lush forests of oak trees is a common experience on many lower to mid-altitude treks in Nepal. The Annapurna and Everest regions, as well as areas like Langtang and Helambu, are home to oak forests.
- Pine (Pinus): Pine (Salla in Nepali) are very important trees. Both as timber and also for slope stabilization and reforestation of denuded areas. The two important species found in Nepal include Chir Pine (Khote Salla) and Blue Pine (Gobre Salla). Chir pine are found in the lower hills (1,000 ft to 6,500 ft.) and Blue pine in the higher elevations (6,000 ft to 13,500 ft.). Pine forests provide a characteristic aroma and often feature on routes like the Annapurna Circuit trek, Langtang trek, Everest trek, Kanchenjunga trek etc.
- Fir (Abies): Silver Fir is found at elevations of 2,800m/9,200ft to 3,850m/12,700ft (treeline). A continuous belt of this forest is found in central Nepal between 2,900-3,800m on the south-facing slopes (Central Nepal treks mainly include Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Langtang treks). In the extreme east Larix griffithiana and in the Langtang area of central midland L. himalaica occur associated with silver fir and maple (Acer spp.) forests. (Ref: https://www.onlinebiologynotes.com/types-of-forest-in-nepal/).
- Juniper (Juniperus): Juniper trees are quite common at higher altitudes of Nepal. These hardy evergreens thrive in the alpine regions and are often seen on all high altitude treks: Everest Base Camp trek, Upper Mustang trek, Kanchenjunga trek, Makalu trek etc. They are also used for Buddhist religious rituals in the high altitude regions of Nepal.
- Birch (Betula): Birch trees are moderate sized deciduous trees found in Nepal between 1,500 and 3,000 meters. It occurs throughout the sub-Himalayan tract in mixed high forest of Oaks and Conifers. The White Himalayan Birch occur up to 4,200 meters. The forests surrounding the Gokyo Lakes and the Annapurna Sanctuary have birch groves.
- Maple (Acer): Maple trees are moderate sized deciduous trees found in the outer Himalayas in ravines and moist valleys. They occur between 2,200 ft to 7,200 ft. Unlike European or other Maples, the leaves are not lobed but are oblong or lance-shaped. They add vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow during the autumn season, enhancing the beauty of treks like the Langtang Valley trek and the Ghorepani Poon Hill trek.
- Hemlock (Tsuga): Hemlock trees are part of Nepal’s temperate forests and can be seen in areas like the Langtang region. These evergreen conifers contribute to the region’s ecological diversity.
- Apple (Malus domestica): Apple trees have been planted in 55 of 76 districts in Nepal. These include Annapurna Circuit, Upper Mustang and Langtang.
- Walnut (Juglans regia): Walnut trees are found in some regions of Nepal, including the Langtang Valley and the section between Phokshumdo Lake and Juphal (Dolpo). Their valuable nuts are harvested and contribute to the local economy.
Other trees found in Nepal:
- Himalayan Yew (Taxus wallichiana): These evergreen trees are found in the higher altitudes of Nepal. They produce a medicinal compound called Taxol, used in cancer treatments.
- Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa): The Bodhi tree, also known as the Peepal tree, holds great religious significance for Buddhists. It is found in many sacred sites across Nepal, including Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
- Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba): The Ginkgo tree, known for its distinctive fan-shaped leaves, can be found in some parts of Nepal. It is a living fossil and is considered sacred in certain cultures.
Trees found in the lowland Terai region:
- Sal (Shorea robusta): Sal forests are prevalent in the lowland Terai region of Nepal. Sal is a sturdy and long-lived tree known for its hardwood, making it valuable for timber and construction purposes. These forests are vital habitats for various wildlife species, including tigers, rhinoceroses, and elephants.
- Sissoo (Dalbergia sissoo): Sissoo is a deciduous tree commonly found in the Terai and the lower hills. It is prized for its durable and termite-resistant wood, making it valuable for furniture and flooring. Sissoo trees also play an essential role in stabilizing riverbanks and preventing erosion.
- Teak (Tectona grandis): Teak, a deciduous hardwood tree, is found in the Terai region and lower hill areas of Nepal. It is highly valued for its durable timber, used in construction, furniture-making, and boat-building industries.
These are just a few examples of the wide variety of trees found in Nepal. The country’s rich botanical diversity is a testament to its ecological significance and makes it a haven for nature enthusiasts and researchers alike.
Some trees found in the hills of Nepal
A detailed list and description of trees of Nepal can be found in the book “Trees and Shrubs of Nepal and the Himalayas” by Adrian and Jimmie Storrs.