Al’alan tree (Juniperus Excelsa) comes under endangered species, which is spread all over in the foothills and plateaus of the Al Hajar Mountains at an altitude of 3,000 meters above sea level.
It belongs to the conifer family, and its fruits are used to tackle vermin, reptiles and mosquitoes. Locally it is called ‘Ar’ar’, which has a branch height of 12 meters.
Its sweet aromatic smell distinguishes it, and Al’alan wood is used in construction due to its weather sturdiness. Local people use its gum as a memory stimulator and fruit to treat stomach problems.
There should be an awareness campaign among the visitors to Jabal Al Akhdar, where the Al’alan trees are found in abundance. Unfortunately, without knowing the consequences, some visitors sit under the trees, set fire and break the branches causing damage to the trees.
According to the Oman Center for Genetic Resources, the Al’alan tree (Juniperus Excelsa) comes under endangered species, its other areas of vegetation being Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Levant, Turkey and some countries bordering the Mediterranean basin.
The historical importance of Juniperus Excelsa has been documented in many sources. Mention is there in Pharaonic the Hearst and Ebers Papyrus as a source of "pain reliever" helpful in heart diseases, epilepsy, urinary tract infections. diuresis, renal colic, joint pain, rheumatism, burn, cough and asthma.
Studies show that the Sultanate of Oman went through cold ages and rare environmental conditions. Some researchers discovered fossils of the tree in the Al Haqf region (Wusta Governorate).
Therefore, the importance of this tree for the people of Jabal Al Akhdar is not limited to its environmental, health and aesthetic value. It is an integral part of their heritage. The relationship of the people of the Western Hajar Mountains with the Al’alan tree has been rooted since ancient times.
To preserve this tree and other trees that are subjected to human and natural violations, and to preserve them from the danger of extinction, a Royal Decree was issued to establish the “Jabal Al Akhdar Landscape Reserve” that includes six natural areas located on a total area of 116 square metres.
The reserve has successfully retained the trees that are closely associated with the Sultanate of Oman’s heritage and culture.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY YAHYA AL SALMANI